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Francis Patrick "Frank" Walsh, Sr
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Birth: Jul. 20, 1864
Saint Louis
St. Louis City
Missouri, USA
Death: May 2, 1939
New York
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA

FRANCIS P. "Frank" WALSH, a Midwestern Irish-American born under very humble post-immigrant circumstances who rose to state cabinet positions in New York State, becoming a force in Kansas City, MO and New York City politics (as well as a noted national Catholic lay leader), was born in St. Louis, MO at the close of the Civil War on July 20, 1864 to Irish immigrant parents, the third of six children. His family moved to Kansas City, MO in 1867. His father, a K.C. grain salesman, died four years later when Frank was 7 years of age.

Educated briefly in parochial and public schools until age 10, Walsh then dropped out of school, taught himself stenography, and secured a job with the office of noted Kansas City attorney Gardner Lathrop, where he read law in his spare time. As a result of this effort, Walsh was admitted to the Missouri Bar in 1889 at age 25, when he was considered an expert stenographer in the state of Missouri.

Walsh, who considered himself "a self-made man," developed a significant political and public service career in Kansas City and later in New York which brought him to the attention of U.S. national Democratic Party leaders.

He consistently sided with the rights of Labor and the underprivileged to assure their ongoing legal protection--and frequently donated his time and professional services to noteworthy legal defenses he believed in.

By 1913, Walsh had distinguished himself as a social reformer and noted labor attorney, appointed by Pres. Woodrow Wilson to be chairman of the national Industrial Relations Commission with former U.S. President William Howard Taft. Walsh also served as co-chairman of the War Labor Board during World War I. In the 1920's, he was active in safeguarding civil liberties and promoting Irish national independence in his ancestral country.

Walsh backed progressive candidate Robert M. LaFollette of Wisconsin for President in 1924. Moving to New York City in 1928, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Walsh to the New York State Power Authority in 1931, where Walsh advocated lower power rates and municipal ownership of utlities.

In 1937, he campaigned for the reelection of New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, and helped organize the Catholic Citizens Committee for the Ratification of the Child Labor Amendment. He also helped found the National Lawyers Guild in 1936, but resigned three years later. Becoming a noted
Catholic lay leader in New York Irish-American circles, Walsh was named a Trustee of St. Patrick's Cathedral by Patrick Cardinal Hayes, and later, a Pontifical Knight of the Holy Sepulchre for his extensive church involvement.

Married to the former Katherine M. O'Flaherty (1866-1949) of Kansas City, MO in October, 1891, they were the parents of nine children: Katherine Marie, Sarah Louise, Cecelia, Frank P. Jr., John Frederick, Edgar (stillborn), Jerome, James G. (1906-1958) and Virginia A. Walsh. His son Jerome would develop a significant legal and political career in Kansas City; two of the daughters became Sisters of Loretto, one serving as an administrator of the American order of Roman Catholic nuns headquartered in Nerinx, KY. (A younger brother of Frank's, James W. Walsh, Sr., served as a lawyer in Missouri Governor Joseph M. Folk's administration in the early 1900's).

Frank P. Walsh died of a heart attack while walking down the street in New York City on May 2, 1939. After a funeral Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral, his remains was returned to Kansas City, MO and interred at Mount St. Mary's Cemetery there.

Walsh will be remembered as an accomplished public figure of that era--a product of immigrants whose talent and savvy developed under hardship significantly impacted the evolution of 20th century urban political systems of large cities, particularly in the urban centers of the Midwest and Northeast, as well as the U.S. Labor Movement.

Successful political and legal careers similar to that of Mr. Walsh paved the way for the later ascendancy of other national Irish-American political leaders of the mid-20th century such as Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and President John F. Kennedy. (Adapted from the entry in the 1966 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA and Midwestern history sources).

EDITOR's NOTE: The FRANK P. WALSH Papers are on permanent file at the New York Public Library in New York City. They were donated by the Walsh Family in 1941 to the library's permanent collection.

Family links: 
  Katherine M. O'Flaherty Walsh (1866 - 1949)
Note: Irish-American national and regional political leader and cabinet appointee.
Mount Saint Marys Cemetery
Kansas City
Jackson County
Missouri, USA
Plot: Sec C, Lot 81, Graves 8and9
Created by: Max S. Kaiser, Jr.
Record added: Nov 23, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 101183477
Francis Patrick Frank Walsh, Sr
Added by: NE MO
Francis Patrick Frank Walsh, Sr
Added by: Katie
Francis Patrick Frank Walsh, Sr
Added by: Carla McClasky
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