Paul  McMahon
Paul McMahon

November 21, 1934 - December 1, 2017
Born in Cedar Rapids, IA
Resided in Waukee, Iowa
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Paul R. McMahon, 83, passed away December 1, 2017 at Unity Point Methodist Medical Center. Visitation will be held from 5-8pm, Friday, December 8, 2017 at Iles Westover Chapel. A rosary will begin at 7pm. Funeral services will be held at 10am, Saturday, December 9, 2017 at St. Pius X Catholic Church. Interment will be at 3:30pm, Saturday at Immaculate Conception Cemetery, Petersville, IA.

Paul was born on November 21, 1934 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa to Joseph and Olga (Amundson) McMahon. Growing up with an Irish Catholic father and a Norwegian Protestant mother, Paul and his 5 siblings led a nomadic life in their early years as their father moved from place to place in Cedar Rapids in search of steady employment. Despite the constant uprooting and a difference in religious background, Paul's mother insisted her children attend Catholic schools, providing a strong educational foundation that served him and his siblings well throughout their lives.

After graduating from high school, Paul joined the Air Force where he achieved the rank of staff sergeant. During the waning months of the Korean War, he was stationed in Japan and worked on radar systems located on remote islands off the coast of Japan. This was dangerous work that involved traversing steep mountain roads, climbing perilously high radar towers, and working with high voltage electrical transmission equipment. As testimony to the dangers of this environment, almost miraculously, Paul survived a jeep crash when the jeep he was riding in careened off a mountainside, killing the driver. Perhaps it was pure instinct, or self-preservation skills honed from years of dodging corporal punishment from Catholic school nuns, Paul was able to launch himself from the jeep and somersault his way down the mountain, surviving with only a broken shoulder. This was one of several near death experiences that made him a strong believer in the presence of guardian angels.

After his time in the military, Paul returned to Cedar Rapids where he met his wife, Josephine McDermott. They married and eventually moved to Cottage Grove, MN where Paul began work for the Department of Defense (DOD) as a quality control specialist. In contrast to his itinerant youth, Paul and Josephine lived in the same house for over 35 years. During this time, they raised 4 children.

In his job with the DOD, Paul quickly worked his way up to a management position. Although bureaucracy and politics where not his favorite endeavors, he led several departments over the course of his career. Using his experience as a radar technician and his expectations for high quality, he continued to serve his country as he managed teams to ensure our nation's military equipment was manufactured to the highest standards.

Paul's true passion, however, was using his mind and his hands to build and repair things. Although he never attended college, he had a natural mechanical aptitude that would have impressed any engineering professor. As his family expanded, Paul decided to build an extension to his home and perform the work himself. He dug his own foundation, completed his own masonry work, extended the roof, shingled, framed and sheetrocked walls, installed electrical and plumbing to code, and installed ductwork and flooring. Paul's reputation quickly spread throughout the neighborhood and his assistance was often requested. He would unselfishly volunteer his time and spend evenings and weekends working on construction and remodeling projects for others. His skills were not limited to home construction. Paul also performed most of his own auto repair work and often assisted others. As was the case with home construction, there was very little he couldn't fix on a car.

Despite his love of working with his hands, Paul's family was most important in his life. He was a faithful and loving husband to his wife, Josephine, for over 50 years. As could be seen in family photos, they went everywhere together. They also made an exceptional team in raising their 4 children, raising them in faith, sacrificing for their education, and demonstrating the value of hard work. They always had time for their children and were their biggest advocates. Paul and Josephine eventually moved to Surfside beach in SC to enjoy their retirement near the ocean. As Josephine's health began to decline, they moved back to their home state of Iowa to be closer to family members. Paul devoted his full attention to Josephine for the remainder of her life and was with her until her last days in late 2010. He was heart-broken after her passing.

Paul eventually met and married Connie Coy-McMahon. It was obvious how much Paul loved her as she helped fill his final years with tremendous happiness. He also felt privileged to be associated with Connie's family. In turn, Connie cared deeply for Paul and stayed faithfully by his side to the very end.

Although Paul had far too many friends to mention, Jim Kane was Paul's longest and dearest friend. Paul met Jim during high school and they re-established their friendship after both returned from military service. Their strong bond was further reinforced when both dated and married McDermott sisters. Only Paul's relationship to his brother Jack could compare. Connie and Paul also developed many close friends in the relatively short time that Paul lived in Des Moines. Paul often talked about a particular friend who showed tremendous generosity by driving Connie and Paul back from Florida after an accident last year.

Paul left his children with an abundance of memories to cherish. Many of these memories originate from small details that reflect his unassuming ways, his strong character, and his ability to laugh at himself and make others feel important. These are things that Paul and his children often laughed about during times of reminiscing. They remember such things as his hatred for Mr. Potato Head after a plastic eye stem pierced his bare foot late one night. They remember his laughter in bed while reading a recommended humorous novel only to throw the book in the trash after hitting an unexpected bawdy chapter. They remember his quick power naps after dinner, the white t-shirts he wore around the house, his love of Frank Sinatra, his passion for reading, his ability to smoke a cigarette while mowing the lawn, his impressive intellect, his nonjudgmental advice that was almost always right, his ability to be one-with-the-car and casually traverse heavy traffic conditions, his constant teasing and bantering with friends/family/strangers, his walks with his youngest son, and the obvious love and excitement his grandkids showed when around their grandpa.

People who knew Paul generally saw the same attributes. He was unpretentious. He was a friend to everyone but would prefer to talk to the janitor rather than the CEO. He was stubborn. He was reliable. He was forgiving. He was a counselor. He was an encourager. He always stood up for the underdog. But always, there was his sense of humor that he used to put people at ease. This was perhaps his most noticeable attribute and one he maintained until his last hours. The day before Paul passed, after first commenting on how wonderful the ICU medical staff had been, he joked about how lousy the team was at predicting his end. As he stated, "based on everything I was told, I expected that today I would be 'hitting the road, Jack' .. but hell, I'm still hanging around .. how competent are these people". Of course, everyone in the room broke out in laughter and it was obvious that, despite his condition, Paul retained his humor to the end. This is the Paul McMahon that we will always miss.

Paul is survived by his wife, Connie; children, Colleen (Mike) Crawley, Mike (Joyce) McMahon, Pauline (Chris) Cimaszewski and Dennis (Jill) McMahon; 11 grandchildren, Michael, Ryan, Olivia, Monica, Keely, Joseph, Grace, Nicholas, Matthew, Samantha, and Brady; 3 great grandchildren, Tori, Ireland, and Miles; and his sister, Lorraine Ehrman. He was preceded in death by his parents; his first wife and mother of his children, Josephine (McDermott) McMahon; 3 brothers, Don, Jack and Leon and a sister, Joyce.

Memorial contributions may be directed to Sisters of Mercy West/Midwest community:


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Westover Funeral Home
6337 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA US 50322
Friday, December 8, 2017
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Westover Funeral Home
6337 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA US 50322
Friday, December 8, 2017
7:00 PM
St. Pius X Catholic Church
3663-66th Street
Urbandale, IA 50322
Saturday, December 9, 2017
10:00 AM
Immaculate Conception Cemetery
1302 250th Ave.
Petersville, IA 52731
Saturday, December 9, 2017
3:30 PM


Sisters of Mercy West/Midwest Community
7262 Mercy Road
Omaha, NE 68124
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