Daniel E. Meehan never met a stranger. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, friend and philanthropist.
| 8:00 a.m. January 8, 2020
Tributes & Obituaries
Daniel E. Meehan 1930-2019
Daniel E. Meehan never met a stranger. A devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, friend and philanthropist, Dan worked endlessly to make a difference in other’s lives at home and around the world.
Now we celebrate the life of this generous, joyful man who always put faith and family first. A serendipitous man, Dan passed away at 3:33 p.m. on December 30th, 2019 in his home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, hand in hand with the love of his life, Eileen. He was 89 years old.
A gifted storyteller, Dan’s favorite one to tell was how he and Eileen met while he attended Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy in New York. “It all started on a blind date!” he would say with a twinkle in his eye. Anyone who knew them could see their unwavering devotion to one another; Eileen grounded Dan and was his source of calm when business and life became stormy. They held hands constantly, as if drawn together by their own gravity. They celebrated a private renewal of vows on their 67th wedding anniversary, just three days before he passed.
Dan was born on March 3, 1930 and grew up in a lively, loving home in an Irish neighborhood in Staten Island, New York City. The son of Philip, a surveyor for New York City, who was known to give unassuming but practical advice to many, and his mother, Alice, who without fanfare, helped and fed almost everyone in the neighborhood. Dan drew from his parents’ influence when he taught his children and grandchildren lessons about the importance of faith, family and humility.
Dan’s vast encyclopedia of adventures and experiences grew while he matriculated at Kings Point, and from the subsequent years he spent at sea. One such voyage included the care of a wild Cheetah on board from Mombasa, Kenya to Boston.
Dan then started his Merchant Marine career in 1951 after graduating from Kings Point; he and Eileen were married the following year on December 27th, 1952. Eileen had the clever idea of marrying at Christmastime because the church would still be decorated and filled with poinsettias, and as a young couple coming from humble beginnings they smartly saved in every way possible.
As the Meehan family grew, Dan decided to bring his career closer to home. His love of the sea was surpassed by the love and joy his young family brought him, so he hung up his merchant marine uniform and, in his words, “came ashore” permanently. Dan transitioned his career to the commercial side of international shipping at the Port of New York, overlooking the historic Brooklyn Bridge. There he was able to build his reputation as an ethical, smart, and tireless worker, even when his modest wages did not reflect his impressive output. His children recall their father occasionally borrowing change from their piggy banks to pay his ferry commute to work. It was clear to all who worked with him that Dan was destined for a successful career as soon as fate delivered the right opportunity. So when his stellar national reputation led him to be recruited by Ted Hansen to manage Hansen Seaway Service at the Port of Milwaukee, Dan seized the fortuitous opportunity and moved his young family to the Midwest. He eventually bought the business and six other international shipping companies at various ports around the United States. Dan sold his companies in 1996 at the age of 66.
Regimented from his years as a merchant marine, Dan always greeted the day with the sunrise. He enjoyed spending his mornings writing letters and emails to his five children and 18 grandchildren. He shared a daily phone call with his sister, Clare, and like the proud Irish Catholic he was, Dan always answered the phone “Top o’ the morning!”
He shared a special relationship with each member of his large family, and his favorite way to say goodbye was to remind each one, “I love you, and I like you.”
Dan was passionate about setting up future generations for success; this was true of his own family and the global family he grew through decades of generous giving. Dan valued education as the greatest tool for success, and taught this to his children and grandchildren, and to the countless children around the world whose lives he impacted. He will be remembered in schools, orphanages, and hospitals across the globe. Dan had a huge heart that was reflected through the many blessings he shared with his family and community. He shared a special relationship with each member of his large family, and his favorite way to say goodbye was to remind each one, “I love you, and I like you.”
An active member of the Catholic Church, Dan lived the Gospel and served the poor. He witnessed abject poverty while traveling to third world countries, so he started the Meehan Family Foundation. The Foundation has supported scholarships, schools, hospitals, and orphanages throughout the world. Dan was known by staff at the Milwaukee Foundation to have given more money abroad than any donor in the history of the Foundation. His legacy will transcend many lifetimes.
Through his philanthropy, he had the privilege to meet Pope John Paul, Mother Teresa, President Ronald Reagan, President George Bush Sr., President Richard Nixon, Fidel Castro and many other historic leaders.
Throughout his illustrious career in the international shipping industry and the decades of philanthropic work that followed, Dan was honored with countless civic and business awards, along with many distinguished service awards from organizations near and dear to his heart, including his alma mater Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy, Legatus and the Knights of Malta. Dan’s involvement with the Knights of Malta enabled him to multiply his own financial assistance for the projects he was most passionate about. His favorite fundraising challenges were matching grants, when his charisma and charm would inspire and open the hearts of many to get involved and give back.
Dan Meehan was one of a kind. He will be remembered for the beautiful legacy he created, and his warmth for every soul he met. His mother always said he had a smile that could light up the world. And it did.
Dan is survived by his wife Eileen, five children and in-laws: Laurie (the late Chet) Lukaszewicz, Theresa and Zach Felknor, Daniel Meehan Jr., Suzanne and Ali Siadat, Margie Meehan. In addition, he is survived by 18 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren and sister, Clare (the late Jay) Murphy.
Dan lived by the sentiment he held most dear, and asked that we all do the same, “When all is said and done, it boils down to...have we made other peoples’ lives a bit better than they would have been without our presence?”
Visitation will take place on Saturday, January 11th, from 9:00 to 11:00AM, at the Basilica of Saint Josephat, on the corner of South 6th St. and West Lincoln Ave., in Milwaukee, WI. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated immediately following at 11:00 AM. Reception to follow. Interment will be private.
Memorials in Dan’s name may be made to The Sisters of Mary, C/O Meehan Family Legacy Fund, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, 101 W. Pleasant St., Ste 210, Milwaukee, WI 53211 or to Three Holy Women, C/O Meehan Family Legacy Fund, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, 101 W. Pleasant St., Ste 210, Milwaukee, WI 53211.
Feerick Funeral Home in Milwaukee, WI is assisting the family, (414)962-8383, www.feerickfuneralhome.com
DONATIONS: Memorials in Dan’s name may be made to The Sisters of Mary, C/O Meehan Family Legacy Fund, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, 101 W. Pleasant St., Ste 210, Milwaukee, WI 53211 or to Three Holy Women, C/O Meehan Family Legacy Fund, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, 101 W. Pleasant St., Ste 210, Milwaukee, WI 53211.