George B. Irish


George B. Irish, who held key roles with the William Randolph Hearst Foundation of California and the Hearst Foundation Inc. of New York and served on the boards of ArchCare and the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, died Sept. 13 at his home in New Jersey. He was 78.

A Memorial Mass for Mr. Irish will be offered at St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 4 p.m. Wedneday, Oct. 19.

Mr. Irish, who served as a Knight of Magistral Grace of the Order of Malta, had served for six years on the board of trustees of ArchCare, the continuing care community of the archdiocese, and also served as the chair of its mission and stakeholder engagement committee.

“In addition to his work on the board, George was a trusted adviser who volunteered at our ArchCare Programs with his wife, Jeannie,” said Scott LaRue, chief executive officer of ArchCare.

“George was a humble man who treated everyone equally and with respect; he was always there to help those in need. A friend and golf companion who will be truly missed. George lived his faith in his actions and service.”

For the Order of Malta’s American Association, Irish served as area chair of New York, 2013-2019, a period when membership increased. He was invested into the order in November 2009.

“He did an excellent job,” said Deacon Jeffrey Trexler, executive director of the American Association, noting that Irish headed operations including Malta walks to distribute food and clothes to homeless on the streets as well as providing assistance at nursing homes and food kitchens.

Mr. Irish, a parishioner of St. Vincent Ferrer-St. Catherine of Siena parish in Manhattan, was a longtime generous supporter of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund, with both personal gifts and through the Hearst Foundation. He sponsored four students through the “Be a Student’s Friend” over a 12-year period.

“George was a treasured member of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund board for more than a decade and was immensely liked by his fellow trustees,” said Peter Grauer, president of the board of trustees of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund. “His generosity and leadership helped thousands of deserving children receive a Catholic school education.

“Our deepest condolences go out to his beloved wife Jeannie and family.”

Irish was senior vice president and president of Hearst Newspapers before his retirement in 2008. He later served as vice president and Eastern director of the William Randolph Hearst Foundation and the Hearst Foundation Inc.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Irish was the publisher of Hearst daily newspapers in Michigan and Texas. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Press Institute in 2006.

He was a graduate of Millikin University in Decatur, Ill.

He was predeceased by his first wife, Mary Rettig Irish, who died in 2005. He is survived by daughters Sandra Irish Draper and Christine Irish Sheedy and their three children. A third daughter, Diane Leslie Irish, died in infancy. 

He is survived by his wife, Jeannie Wetherill Irish; stepdaughters Jayne Ann Puccio and Amy Wetherill Cooley and their four children.  

Also surviving are his brothers, Charles and John.

A Funeral Mass was offered Sept. 23 at St. Joseph’s Church in Fremont, Ohio, where burial followed.

George B. Irish