National Press Club

Cosgrove eulogized as 'bridge between founders, future' of National Press Club

October 23, 2016 | By Wesley G. Pippert |

With the blessing of his faith and the tribute of his country, John Patrick Cosgrove, the beloved oldest surviving president of the National Press Club and the president who gave President John F. Kennedy his Club membership, was given fond and final farewell Friday.

The funeral mass was held in the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, the same sanctuary where Kennedy's funeral was held in 1963. Two years earlier, the two young presidents, both in their 40s, had taken part in the membership ceremony.

Participants in the Oct. 21 funeral recalled that Cosgrove had insisted that Kennedy pay his membership dues first, and Kennedy, upon departing, advised Cosgrove to "keep your hand on the Bible."

Cosgrove, like Kennedy, served in the Navy during World War II.

Club President Thomas Burr of the Salt Lake Tribune, acknowledging he was aware he was speaking from the same lectern that was used during the Kennedy funeral, said in his remarks that Cosgrove "was the bridge between our founders and our future."

"The National Press Club is better because of John. We all are better people because of John," Burr said.

Also in attendance was Club vice president Jeff Ballou. Past Club presidents in attendance included Gil Klein (1994) and John Hughes (2015). Don Larrabee (1973) is now believed to be the most senior past president. Numerous Club staff members also were present at the funeral.

The mass was celebrated by Msgr. W. Ronald Jameson, and the homily was given by Msgr. John W. Jordan. After the singing of the traditional Navy hymn, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save," which also was sung at Kennedy's funeral, an honor guard of Navy sailors escorted the incense-bathed casket out of the cathedral into the golden autumn noonday. Burial was planned for Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Silver Spring, Md.

Other remembrances after the mass were offered by Michael Lonegran, from the Embassy of Ireland, Toby Mack, vice president of the U.S. Navy Memorial, and Rebecca Strandburg, Cosgrove's attorney.

In his remarks, Ed Ackerman, a newspaperman from Cosgrove's hometown of Pittston, Pa., recalled that Cosgrove donated his papers and books -- "two carloads" -- to the Pittston library.

"With all due respect to the Catholic church, the Navy, and the Press Club," Ackerman said, "John's three great loves were his country, his Irish heritage -- and Pittston."