The Lasting Legacy of James J. McCann on Marist Athletics

From beyond the grave, James J. McCann continues to perpetuate Marist Athletics through his foundation, the James J. McCann Charitable Trust.

More often than not, a man’s legacy is limited to what he accomplished in the flesh. Very rarely are we given the opportunity to witness an immortal soul bolster their memory from the afterlife.

James J. McCann, however, is the exception; he has achieved immortality in the world of Marist Athletics.

McCann, a Poughkeepsie native, was born in 1880 to the owners of a feed and grain store. As he entered adulthood, his father would provide him with two gifts; the family business, and some stock certificates. These certificates were the beginning of McCann’s lifelong endeavors in the stock market, which would ultimately prove to be extremely successful; providing him with the revenue to establish the James J. McCann Charitable Trust in 1967.

The purpose of the trust was to promote “progressive human welfare work” in Poughkeepsie, NY. Its reach, however, quickly expanded to the surrounding Dutchess County, and took on other initiatives, such as working with Marist College, including its athletic department.

Only a few short years after the trust was established, in 1969, McCann passed away at the age of 89. Leaving his foundation in the hands of the board of trustees.

Fortunately, in the decades following his death, the board has sought to maintain McCann’s charitable vision, especially within the community of Marist athletics.

Most recently, the trust has issued Marist College a $2 million grant for the restoration and expansion of the Marist athletic facility, the James J. McCann Recreation Center.

With this money, the school hopes to erect two 7,000-square-foot rooms; one weight room for athletic teams and the other for the general student body. The grey auxiliary gym will also be converted into wooden basketball courts, along with a separate multipurpose room and an elevated indoor track.

“It will have a gym; two regulation size, college size courts. Wood floor basketball courts. It will have sleeves and lines for volleyball, as well. Baskets will be from the ceiling so they’ll be much more flexible,” said Marist College Athletic Director, Tim Murray. Murray also went to state that the restored recreation center “will be much better than what we have.”

This donation is the latest in a series of grants that have allowed Marist Athletics to flourish in the decades since McCann’s death.

In 1977, the McCann Trust allocated a generous donation for the construction of Marist’s original recreation building. Further contributions led to the addition of the auxiliary gym to the recreation center in 1997.

In the early 1990s, trustee John J. Gartland, Jr. spearheaded fundraising for a new baseball complex at Marist College, resulting in the construction of the James J. McCann Baseball Field in 1991, which opened for the 1992 season.

Two facilities named in memoriam, multiple renovations and expansions, and more to come; there is no arguing that McCann’s legacy has continued to grow in unison with Marist Athletics. His generosity has lived on for nearly a half century beyond his death, and there is no definitive end in sight.

When asked of the generous relationship between the McCann Trust and Marist Athletics, Tim Murray told Center Field, “The James J. McCann Charitable Trust has been extremely generous to Marist College and specifically our Athletic Department. Their leadership and support over the past forty years has provide not only first class facilities for our NCAA Div. I athletic program, but also recreational facilities for our club sports, intramurals and recreational programs. Their continued support with our new McCann expansion will impact every Marist student and it greatly appreciated.”

Leave a Reply