Allegany Magazine remembers
Dr. Sean McCagh
By SHANE RIGGS
Managing Editor, Allegany Magazine
“Those we love don’t go away, They walk beside us every day, unseen, unheard, but always near, Still loved, still missed and very dear.”
The entire staff of Allegany Magazine was profoundly saddened to receive the heartbreaking news that Dr. Sean McCagh passed away after a brief but brave battle with COVID-19 on January 31, 2021. He was only 60 years old.
The April 2021 edition of Allegany Magazine is dedicated in memory of Dr. McCagh, whose impact will be felt and whose presence will be missed for years to come.
Dr. McCagh was indeed a pillar of our community, often loaning his expertise, his time and his monetary donations anonymously. He contacted us frequently with story and feature ideas.
In fact, Sean was very instrumental and is heavily credited for his help with our February 2021 health and wellness edition. Had it not been for his connections and references, we may have had a more difficult time securing the cover story that month. Over the years he also influenced stories in this publication regarding the Hooley Plunge – the fundraiser near and dear to his heart that to date has raised $1.5 million for charity, the development of Luke’s Place in Oldtown, and even the birth of the 1812 Brewery captained by one of his sons.
It is not an overstatement to say that the passing of Dr. Sean McCagh is a very powerful and stunning loss for our area. He was a man who loved his community and lived his life in such a way that he only wanted the best for those who live here and he did everything in his ability to make that happen.
We join the hundreds if not thousands of people throughout the Allegany County community in expressing our condolences. While he waged his personal fight against the pandemic at UPMC Western Maryland, social media locally began to respond – with folks changing their profile pictures to a shamrock – the Irish symbol of good fortune – some of those clovers were “embroirdered” with “Sean Strong” on them.
“Our hearts are broken to share that our friend and founder of the Hooley Plunge, Dr. Sean McCagh passed away this morning from his battle with COVID,” read a statement posted on the Hooley Plunge Facebook page on February 1. “Sean was so many things to so many people. He loved his family, his patients, and his community. Without Sean, there would have never been a Hooley Plunge. We are all better off for having known Dr. Sean McCagh. Please keep his family in your prayers.”
Born in Cumberland, McCagh was one of nine siblings.
“Sean is my ‘little’ brother, but has always been more of a big brother to me,” Erin McCagh Morrissey said. “I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support for him. I have always said that Sean is Cumberland’s George Bailey (from the movie ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’). It just so happens that this film is our favorite Christmas movie. Well, today, I can honestly say, that my brother Sean is ‘the richest man in town.’ Not from wealth, but by the number of friends whose lives he has definitely touched.”
Dr. McCagh was a proud alumni of Bishop Walsh High School and received his medical degree from the Georgetown University School of Medicine. He joined his brother Mike’s practice in 1996, which today is Western Maryland Dermatology.
A post on the practice’s website read “celebrating the life of one of the great pillars of our community. He will be missed by so many. May his memory be eternal.”
McCagh’s wife, Terri Murphy McCagh, participated in a video made in 2017 for an Allegany County Chamber of Commerce tribute to her husband. It was made shortly before Sean McCagh stepped away from active leadership of the Hooley Plunge, which is now chaired by Rob Adams and Stephen Grey.
“Community is very important to Sean,” she said. “I believe it came from his large family. His love for Cumberland came from that. They did a lot of things together growing up.
“Sean loves to be involved in the community. He gives 110%, never a little bit,” she said. “The biggest thing he started and participated in was the Hooley Plunge. He came up with an idea, but when it began it was for the YMCA ice hockey program. The Y then closed its ice hockey rink so he decided to help out Special Olympics. He was involved with the Alhambra and they were involved as well. He also has a nephew Brian who has special needs. So he liked the idea and it really has turned into something big.”
Sean and Terri have three sons, Cory, Casey and Michael Lastig.
The McCagh family issued a statement one day after the death of the well known physician and dermatologist.
“Like many families around the world, we now grieve for the loss of a loved one taken before their time. We mourn this sudden and seemingly impossible loss in so many ways,” their statement reads: “The second youngest of nine in a family full of proud and gregarious personalities, rich in accolades and achievements, Sean made his own mark on the world.
He had an insatiable work ethic and thirst for action. He was beloved by his patients and adored by the community. His passion for cause and commerce will be felt in Cumberland for decades to come.
Dr. Sean McCagh is chiefly responsible for raising over a million of dollars for Allegany County, Maryland. No small feat for a community of its size. The Hooley Plunge at Rocky Gap was Sean’s brainchild. To date, the Hooley Plunge has raised over $1.5 million dollars to benefit the Special Olympics of Allegany County. The underlying dedication of the cause, like most things in Sean’s life, harken back to family. The Hooley Plunge was Sean’s way of honoring his nephew, Brian Head of Cleveland, Georgia. Brian is his eldest sister’s son, bravely living with developmental disabilities.
He was also 1812's biggest cheerleader. Blessed with Irish eloquence, he would talk story for hours about the property and local history over a well-deserved pint. It was not unusual to see him mowing grass or loading a firepit after work still dressed in his medical scrubs. His passion for history made preserving the barn and re-establishing a working farm very special to him. The Brewery was a way to help put Cumberland, the beloved town he was born and raised in, back on the map.
His boundless energy, vision, and endless whistling will echo in our minds forever, just as his spirit will continue to inspire us all to do as much as we can for each other as friends, as family, and a community he loved so much.
Please honor his legacy by continuing to wear masks and follow social distancing protocols in these trying times.”
During the week that followed his death, Cumberland City Hall was illuminated with green lights in Sean McCagh’s honor.