obituary header
Welcome to the memorial page for

William B. McMahon

May 20, 1930 ~ December 16, 2017 (age 87)

Share using:         

William B. McMahon (1930-2017) & Isabelle E. McMahon (1931-2008)

William 'Bill' Bernard McMahon, 87, of Williamsport, MD, passed away of natural causes Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, at the Hagerstown Healthcare Center.  Born on May 20, 1930 in Ottawa, Canada, Bill was the son of the late John Francis McMahon, II and Mary 'Mae' Gertrude Louprette.  He is survived by his only child, Cheryl Anderson and her husband Richard, a grandson, a great-granddaughter, and a brother Richard Michael McMahon. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his wife of almost 55 years, Isabelle Ellis McMahon, and his brother John 'Jack' F. McMahon, III.  Bill received a U.S. "Certificate of Citizenship" in 1947.  

Isabelle Anne Ellis McMahon, 77, (Bill's wife) passed away of natural causes at home in Williamsport, Maryland on July 29, 2008.  Born on June 1, 1931 in Hornell, New York, she was the daughter of Raymond 'Bill' Eugene Ellis and Kathryn 'Kate' McAndrews.  She was survived by her daughter and grandson.  In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her sister Mary Kathryn 'Mary Kay' Ellis Baker Earle.

Bill's parents John and Mae were originally from Cohoes, NY. They married in 1928 and soon moved to Ottawa, Canada, where John was employed by the Canadian government - sons Jack and Bill were born there.  In 1936, Bill's family moved from Ottawa to Alfred, NY, for John's employment with Alfred University (where John earned a Bachelor of Science in Ceramic Engineering in 1923).  Bill's parents rented a house on S. Main St. directly across from Isabelle's home.  As the only two Catholic families in a predominately Seventh Day Baptist town, their eventual marriage may have been destiny.  Both families were prominent in the town.  Isabelle's father was a pharmacist who ran the Ellis Drugstore on Main Street.  Bill's father John became Dean of Ceramics at Alfred University in 1949. 

Isabelle was a year ahead in school, so she and Bill were in the same class.  They graduated Alfred-Almond Central School in 1948.  Both were graduates of Alfred University, where Bill was in Delta Sigma Phi and Isabelle in Sigma Chi.  Isabelle earned a Bachelor of Arts cum laude and a Master of Science in Education degree in 1952 and 1953 respectively.  During the Korean War in 1951, Bill interrupted his college education to enlist in the Air Force.  On August 9, 1952,  Bill and Isabelle were married at the Blessed Sacrament Church, in Andover, NY, by Father Gerald McMinn.  Isabelle stayed in Alfred and began teaching at Cohocton Central School and would later teach at Alfred-Almond Central.  Bill was discharged from the Air Force after two years service and returned to Alfred University to complete the last year of his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1954.  Bill was an electrical contractor for the first ten months of 1954.  They purchased a small house on N. Main St. in Alfred and in May 1954, their daughter Cheryl was born.

Bill had an extensive law enforcement career: serving in the Air Force Military Police (1951-1953); New York State Trooper (1954-1956); CIA Agent in counter-intelligence operations (1956-1966) where he traveled extensively for 10 years to ensure American facilities were "bug free" worldwide (CIA offices were in NYC and DC, family moved to Bayside, NY in 1956 and Kensington, MD in 1959); Secret Service Technical Development Chief (1966-1968) where consulted on White House security redesign after the Kennedy assassination; Technical Director for Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institutes' Law Enforcement Science and Technology Center (1968-1971); self-employed Law Enforcement and Security Systems Consultant (1971-1972); and Law Enforcement Consultant and Senior Systems Analyst for the White House Office of Telecommunications Policy, Office of the President (1972-1976).  He authored the "Police Technology" section of the 15th Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, @1974.  During the years he contributed to the creation of 911 (one number for emergency nationwide) and to the "Privacy Act of 1974" (safeguards on the handling of personal information collected  by  federal agencies).

After the 1959 move to Kensington, MD, Isabelle taught mathematics first at Kensington Junior High School, and in 1966 transferred to the newly opened Charles W. Woodward High School in Rockville, MD where she also served as the sponsor of the Math Team.  Isabelle received a "Certificate of Appreciation" from the Montgomery County Board of Education for 20.5 years of dedicated services when she retired in 1979. 

In 1960, Bill & Isabelle bought a small cabin along the Potomac River outside of Williamsport, MD, where the family would spend every weekend.  They joined the St. Augustine's Catholic Church in Williamsport, where Bill would eventually become an usher.  They purchased another property along the Towpath with a grist mill, where they ran a snack bar and marina on the Potomac for many years until the waterfront was taken in the creation of the C&O Canal National Park in the 1970's. The house on the property eventually became their residence.  In 1976, their daughter was married at St. Augustine's by the same Father McMinn (who flew in from Olean, NY) who had married her parents 24 years earlier. 

After he retired in 1976, Bill along with one other man assembled a 4,000 sqft log cabin on another property not far from the river.  In 1978, Bill and Isabelle opened the restaurant and campground operation called "McMahon's Mill Recreation Area" which operated for about 20 years.  Bill cooked - his specialties were fried chicken and spaghetti.  Isabelle waited tables and tended bar.  Bill purchased a couple of old grist mills, and equipment from another old mill, and began to restore the mill next to his house until it was taken by the Park Service, and later installed grist stones in Trovinger Mill on the east side of Hagerstown.  In 1980 Bill made an unsuccessful run for U.S. Congress in the 6th district against Beverly Byron (he did win a majority in his local Downsville voting station).  After they closed the restaurant they eventually opened McMahon's Mill Civil War Military and American Heritage Museum, the beginning of which was an eclectic collection of family heirlooms, antique guns, and Isabelle's Redskins memorabilia collection that had decorated the former restaurant.  Bill's niece Sharon McMahon (Somerville) moved in with Bill and Isabelle around 2005.  They sponsored Sharon's master's degree while Sharon helped take care of Isabelle as her health declined until she passed in 2008.  Sharon stayed to help Bill with displays in the Museum until she left to get married in 2009.  The museum and campground business declined (due to lack of promotion) and finally closed in 2016. 

Bill and Isabelle were animal lovers who had as many as twelve dogs at once (strays & rescues)  - their cat count got much higher.  They provided funds and shelter to the cat rescue community for more than 20 years.  After Isabelle died, Bill lived alone with his Golden Retriever Buddy and many cats until the end of 2016.  He moved to assisted living at Brookdale Senior Living in Hagerstown in 2017.  Bill received the Sacrament of Last Rites from Rev. Michael Seger at his bedside with his daughter nearby on December 15, 2017.  He passed away peacefully the next day.  Bill has missed Isabelle who he called his "Wild Irish Rose" for more than nine years.  They are together forever now.


In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Bill and Isabelle's name to:     Humane Society of Washington County, 13011 Maugansville Rd., Hagerstown, MD  21740

         or at their website:


Bill 's and Isabelle's ashes will be buried next to Bill's parents. Isabelle's parents and sister are buried nearby.

Online condolences may be made to the family

© 2018 Osborne Funeral Home, PA. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS