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Obituary of Francis John 'Frank' McGuire: Former Manchester mayor and alderman, architect

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 17, 2009 - “The hell I can’t!” was the mantra of Francis John “Frank” McGuire, who, his son said, didn’t believe in limitations. “My father,” Dennis McGuire said, “was always optimistic. He’d say ‘mankind is a problem solver.'"

For more than 40 years, Mr. McGuire was an architect who helped design several St. Louis area hotels and who later, as mayor of Manchester, used his architectural skills to help solve some of the city’s problems.

Mr. McGuire died of lung cancer on Monday, Feb. 9, in a Huntsville, Ala., retirement community where he had moved recently. He was 85.

A visitation for Mr. McGuire will be held from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesday. A memorial service will be at 10 a.m. on Thursday (Feb. 19) at Schrader Funeral Home in Ballwin.

Mr. McGuire began his political career as a Manchester alderman after winning a special election in 1975; he remained an alderman until 1984. Four years later, he was elected mayor of Manchester and was re-elected to four additional two-year terms, serving until 1998. Mr. McGuire’s late wife, Katy McGuire, helped spark his political career.

“My mother was very community-focused,” Dennis McGuire said. “She was a cosmopolitan woman, especially for her time. She encouraged Dad to become involved in politics.”

Mr. McGuire, a native of St. Louis, didn’t need too much encouragement. He’d always been civic-minded. When he and his family moved to Manchester in the early 1950s, it wasn’t yet a city. So, he immediately became involved in his new community, accepting an appointment to the zoning commission.

When he became mayor, he took the city’s motto of “A Proud Past, a Bright Future” to heart. He had “a vision that Manchester would distinguish itself as a historic community in West County and use that to differentiate itself to build character for the City,” according to minutes of a 2007 Board of Aldermen meeting.

“Frank was a leader,” said Ed Blatter, the current Manchester city administrator who worked closely with Mr. McGuire for more than a decade. “He was a good mayor who cared about the city.

“He could be cantankerous, set in his ways, but he had a kind heart,” Blattner laughed. “Frank was a unique person who commanded your respect at all times. And he was a good architect who had a positive effect on the city.”

Among the challenges Mr. McGuire faced upon becoming mayor of Manchester was the issue of growth. Working with city, county and state officials, he helped lay the groundwork for annexations.

“Under Frank’s leadership, we did our first major annexation in 1997,” Blattner said. “It was important that the city try to grow. We went from around 6,500 people to 10,000.”

Mr. McGuire was also involved in the expansion of Highway 141 through Manchester, working to ensure that the necessary improvements and widening of the road would not be too intrusive and would be esthetically pleasing.

“Frank was the driving force behind getting the MoDOT (Missouri Department of Transportation) funds to enhance the Highway 141 bridge over Manchester Road,” Blattner said. “His lobbying got those architectural treatments.

“Frank was also instrumental in doing the historic lights and pavers along Manchester road. He had a great appreciation for the esthetics because he was an architect.” In 2002, he was named Manchester Citizen of the Year.

Mr. McGuire served an architectural apprenticeship in the late 1940s. He became a self-employed architect who designed commercial and residential facilities from the time he was licensed in the 1950s until his retirement in the mid-'80s, around the time he became the mayor of Manchester. Much of his architectural work was done through his affiliation with Don Breckenridge, the hotel developer.

After graduating from St. Louis University High School in 1941, Mr. McGuire served two years in the Army Air Corps during World War II, and remained in the Air Force Reserve until he was honorably discharged in 1955. He attended Washington University.

Dennis McGuire said his father’s death reminded him of one of his father’s favorite songs which was popularized by folk singer Woody Guthrie during World War II. The song was "So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You"

Mr. McGuire was preceded in death by his wife of more than 40 years, Katy (Mary Catherine Shields McGuire). He was also preceded in death by his son Thomas McGuire, his parents, Ida Huncke McGuire and Francis John McGuire and his brother, Joseph McGuire. His father died of injuries he received in World War I when Mr. McGuire was just 3 years old.

In addition to his son Dennis (Carol) McGuire of Huntsville, Ala., he is survived by another son, John (Barbara) McGuire, also of Huntsville, Ala.; his grandchildren Jessica McGuire and Lindsay (Lucas) Pate, and a dear friend, Juanita McKee of St. Louis.

A visitation will be held from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesday (Feb. 18), followed by a memorial service at 10 a.m. on Thursday (Feb. 19) at Schrader Funeral Home, 14960 Manchester Road at Holloway, in Ballwin. Interment will be in Holy Cross Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society , 4207 Lindell Boulevard, St. Louis, Mo. 63108.

Gloria Ross is the head of Okara Communications and the storywriter for AfterWords, an obituary-writing and production service.

Gloria S. Ross is the head of Okara Communications and AfterWords, an obituary-writing and design service.

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