Fox Chapel veteran’s firm known for landmark plastering |
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Whether he was serving his country as an Army Air Corps officer or operating the family business, Jim McNulty did it with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

After advanced training at the Harvard Business School during World War II, Capt. James McNulty was assigned to the Army’s Statistical Control Program, where he was involved in monitoring the Army’s war efforts from a base in the China-Burma-India Theater.

James E. McNulty of Fox Chapel, retired president of the former McNulty Bros. — a major plastering contractor — died on Tuesday, June 23, 2009. He was 89.

The McNulty firm, which was founded by his father, Michael F. McNulty Sr. in 1901, was known for its architectural plastering work in such landmarks as Frick Art Museum and Heinz Hall and in the more contemporary former Alcoa Building and William Penn Place, Downtown.

“My father was never pleased about the use of plaster board by contractors and continued to do jobs that required the use of mixed plaster,” said his daughter, Elizabeth McNulty Bell of Beaver.

Mrs. Bell said her father was not only gregarious and welcoming, but innovative and a problem solver.

“As busy as Dad was with his work, he made time to be with my brothers, sisters and myself and listened to our thoughts and concerns,” she said. “Dad enjoyed being with younger people, especially on the dance floor where he would join in the fun.”

Born and raised in Shadyside, Mr. McNulty was one of four children in the family of Michael F. and Sophia Bagler McNulty.

Following his graduation from Central Catholic High School in Oakland, Mr. McNulty first worked with his father and then attended Notre Dame University before entering the service in 1942.

In August of that year, he married Mary Jane Wilson, a student at Mt. Mercy College, now Carlow University, in Oakland, whom he met at a dance. He went on active duty in the Army Air Corps in November 1942.

Following his discharge in 1946, Mr. McNulty attended classes at the University of Pittsburgh and was able to transfer his credits to Notre Dame and receive his degree in business administration from there.

Barbara Love of Squirrel Hill, a pediatrician with offices in Oakland, said her father encouraged his children to follow careers that would give them the opportunity to improve the lives of others.

“Dad knew that I was strong in math and science and felt that as a doctor I’d helping those who needed care,” Love said.

She recalled how proud their father was of his Irish heritage and would often, especially on St. Patrick’s Day, play the piano and sing his favorite song: “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”

In addition to his wife, Mary Jane, and daughters, Elizabeth and Barbara, Mr. McNulty is survived by children James E. McNulty Jr. of Boca Raton, Fla.; David W. McNulty of Kiev, Ukraine; and Carol McNulty-Huffman of Maui, Hawaii; and 10 grandchildren.

Mr. McNulty was preceded in death by a son, Robert M. McNulty and his siblings, Kathryn Cauley Peters, Sister Jane McNulty and Michael F. McNulty Jr.

The family will receive friends from 2 to 6 p.m. on Sunday at the Weddell-Ajak Funeral Home,100 Center Ave., Aspinwall.

A Christian Funeral Mass at 11 a.m. in St. Scholastica Church, Aspinwall.

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