May 25, 1903: Philanthropist Bernard McDonough Jr. Born in Texas


Industrialist and philanthropist Bernard McDonough Jr. was born in Texas on May 25, 1903. His Irish immigrant grandfather had previously settled the family in Clarksburg and later in Belpre, Ohio, near Parkersburg. Young Bernard and his sisters returned to their grandmother in Belpre after the death of their mother.

By 1929, McDonough was building gas stations in the Parkersburg area. He expanded his operations during World War II, constructing railroads and entering the marine barge industry.

In the 1950s, McDonough began acquiring other businesses, including Kanawha Sand & Gravel and the O. Ames Company, a Parkersburg tool manufacturer where he’d once worked as a young man for 15 cents an hour. In the 1970s, the McDonough Company reached its peak as a Fortune 500 company, with major operations in footwear, hand tools, and building materials.

As his businesses succeeded, McDonough turned to philanthropy. He made major gifts to Georgetown University and Wheeling College (now Wheeling Jesuit University), among others. Bernard McDonough Jr. died in 1985 at age 82. The Bernard P. McDonough Foundation remains one of the largest private foundations in West Virginia.