Presented by the Laurens County Historical Society, Dublin, Georgia. For questions and information, please contact Scott B. Thompson, Sr. at dublinhistory@yahoo.com.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

JOHN J. MCDONOUGH

JOHN J. MCDONOUGH
A Citizen Wherever He Served




From time to time, exceptional people pass through our midst.  Some are only here for a short time, while others are here for all of our lives.  This is the story of a gridiron star of the Roaring Twenties, who climbed his way from the locker room of a powerful college football team to the board room of one of Georgia's largest corporations.  During his celebrated lifetime, this young man sojourned in Dublin for a brief while on the first rung of the ladder to the board chairmanship of Georgia Power Corporation.

John Joseph McDonough was born in Savannah, Georgia on January 26, 1901.  John, or "Jack" as his friends called him, entered the Georgia Institute of Technology after his graduation from high school in Savannah.  While pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering, Jack became the quarterback of the football team at Georgia Tech under Coach William Alexander.  One Atlanta sportswriter commented that he had the complexion of an Indian, albeit that his tan came from the sunshine of his native home.  His greatest season was his last season when he helped the Tech team to garner the co-championship of the Southern Conference in 1922.

Jack, known as "Gooch" to his teammates,  was compared to Brer Rabbit.  In the 1921 season, he led the Yellow Jackets to a defeat of a great Rutgers team.  "He always ran the right thing at the right time and helped to put drive into every play.  He was always there when we needed a yard or two for a first down.  That's the best thing about Jack, he can always slip through a hole for the necessary gain when it is needed," commented Tech end John Staton.   In one of his greatest games, his Yellow Jackets smashed the Crimson Tide of Alabama by the score of 33-7.  Forty decades later, McDonough was elected to the school's Athletic Hall of Fame.  Because of his prowess on the football field, he was offered a position as football coach and mathematics teacher at Savannah High School.  After four years in his hometown, McDonough was approached by Georgia Southern Power Corporation for a position with the company.

In a 1925 referendum, the voters of Dublin overwhelmingly voted in favor of selling the municipal power plant to Georgia Southern Power primarily in reliance upon the company's promise to make Dublin a distribution point for Middle Georgia.  Company officials sent McDonough to Dublin as an assistant manager in the Dublin office in his first regular assignment.  Then, after only thirteen months, Jack McDonough was promoted again, this time as district manager in Athens, home of his intra-state collegiate rivals.  After only four months in Athens, he was again transferred, this time to Brunswick where he served the remainder of 1928.  Jack McDonough returned to Dublin in January of 1929 where, as district manager, he supervised the Dublin, McRae and Vidalia districts.  McDonough continued his nomadic career by returning to Brunswick after only five months in Dublin.

Jack McDonough was working as the district manager of the Douglas office when the company became the Georgia Power Company in 1930.    He worked as division commercial and sales manager in Augusta in 1937, when he moved to Atlanta.  After another short stint, McDonough moved to Rome, Georgia, where finally he began a thirteen-year stable period of employment, first as division manager and then as division manager and vice-president of the company.

His superiors in the company felt that Jack's rightful place was in the main office in Atlanta.  For a half year, McDonough  served as the district manager of the Atlanta office.  In May 1951, the board of directors elected McDonough as executive vice president of Georgia Power, the number two position in the company.  For six years, McDonough served under President Harlee Branch, Jr.  providing invaluable services wherever the need arose.  In January 1957, McDonough became the sixth president of Georgia Power Company.  After another six years of outstanding service to the company, the stockholders and directors of the company elevated Jack McDonough to position of chairman of the board.

During his administration, McDonough oversaw tremendous growth in the company's service to the rapidly expanding post war city scapes and country sides of Georgia.  Through his efforts and thousands of outstanding employees, Georgia Power Company became the nation's tenth largest publicly owned utility company.   McDonough served until his retirement in 1966, when he took a seat as a director on Georgia Power's parent company, the Southern Company.

During his forty years at Georgia Power Company, Jack McDonough accumulated a remarkable array of accolades and honors.   He was the first native Georgian ever to be nominated as "Engineer of the Year."  A general plant on the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta was named his honor.  As a business man, John J. McDonough was much in demand as a corporate director.  He served on the boards of the Central of Georgia Railway, Pepperill Manufacturing Company, Mead Corporation, Edison Electric Institute, Southern Research Institute, Georgia Future Homemakers of America, Georgia Future Farmers of America, and Georgia International Life Insurance Company.

In summing up his philosophies of business and life, McDonough was said to have firmly believed that the company should get things done, serving as a citizen of the state whenever and wherever necessary, never in fear of the future nor scorning the past.  He encouraged his employees to take a look at everything and never making anything permanent, except progress.

Jack McDonough incorporated his business philosophy as a citizen servant into his personal civic and philanthropic service to the state.  He was vice chairman of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia from 1947 to 1957.  A supporter of the arts, McDonough served on boards which included the Atlanta Music Festival, Atlanta Arts Alliance and Atlanta Symphony Guild.  Children, youth and the unfortunate were of paramount importance to Jack.  He served on the Georgia Tech Foundation, the YMCA, Metropolitan Atlanta Community Services, the Georgia Society for Crippled Children and Adults, the Red Cross and Easter Seals, serving as state chairman of the latter from 1955 to 1957.   He served on countless boards and committees on Chamber of Commerce boards, the Atlanta Athletic Club, the Commerce Club, the Piedmont Driving Club, and the Peachtree Golf Club and numerous other organizations.

John J. McDonough was recognized as one of the most influential figures in the industrial and commercial life of Georgia.  He died on April 1, 1983 in Atlanta after a lengthy illness.  

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