Army officer and firefighter James Maguire dies at 70


James Patrick Maguire, a Riverdale resident, former New York City firefighter and retired U.S. Army officer, died on March 26, after battling bile duct cancer. He was 70.

Mr. Maguire was born on July 9, 1942, the fifth of Patrick and Anna Maguire’s six children.

He grew up in Inwood, and would often regale friends with stories of mischief and mayhem from his youth: swimming in the Hudson River, playing stickball in the streets and pulling pranks on his doting older sisters. He bore the many scars sustained while diving off cliffs, sledding into the L train and roughhousing with the neighborhood kids, most of whom became his lifelong friends, his family said. 

Mr. Maguire joined the FDNY in the 1960s, but his career was cut short after a fall through the roof of a six-story building in August 1970. 

After that, he turned his Army reserve status to that of a reserve officer on active duty. He spent the next 20 years serving as a warrant officer, moving to different military bases around the country until his retirement in 1996.

The family said Mr. Maguire was “akin to a Google search engine,” able to complete the most difficult crossword puzzles in a snap, and could recall facts and figures without effort. He enjoyed sharing the stats and histories of his beloved sports teams and players, his daughter said. That love eventually led Mr. Maguire to the golf course, where he spent many a frustrating day long into his retirement. 

In addition to golf, he also had a deep love of music. Having a captive audience in his four daughters, Mr. Maguire would lead rousing renditions of Harry Belafonte’s “The Ballad of John Henry,” Leonard Cohen’s “I’m Your Man” and many more.

Above all, his daughter said, was Mr. Maguire’s commitment to his family. He was a devoted son who called his mother every day and included her in every event of his life until her death in 1989. 

He had four daughters, and would delight in telling stories of their lives and accomplishments. When asked if he would have liked a son, he would reply, “I already hit a home run with my girls!”

Mr. Maguire was predeceased by three siblings, Helen Brown, John Maguire and Frank Maguire. He is survived by his daughters, Karen Maguire, of Jersey City, N.J., Christine Maguire Cave, of Reno, Nev., Laura Maguire Orzo, of Manhattan, and Jacqui Maguire of Los Angeles; sons-in-law Aaron Cave and Steve Orzo; granddaughters, Jessica and Nicole; dear friend Joyce Fiorentino Maguire; and sisters, Rita Knizewski of Riverdale and Regina Girvan of Denver.  

A funeral was held on Monday at Church of the Good Shepherd in Inwood. Riverdale on Hudson handled the arrangements.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations in Mr. Maguire’s name be made to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, at

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