John McNabb & Sons

Pages 474-475-476 - John McNabb & Sons, general contractors, is one of the largest and most successful firms of Grand Rapids. The prestige of the name of McNabb has been built upon forty-two years of contracting service and the many beautiful homes and buildings which they have constructed. This record attests to the fidelity and skill of the McNabbs as builders far more forcibly than mere words could portray. This firm also presents the value of the opportunity embraced by the sons in taking up the work of their father while they still enjoyed years of valuable association with him. The senior member of this firm, John McNabb, was born in Ontario, Canada, on December 11, 1853. His preliminary education was confined to a portion of a public school course, as he left school at the age of thirteen years. By the time he was seventeen years old he had learned the carpenter trade, which he followed in his native country until 1879, when he came to Detroit, Michigan. After one year of work there he came in 1880 to Grand Rapids, where he has since followed his trade and indelibly left his impress upon the community. As early as 1886 he widened his activities to the general contracting business. In 1910 his son, William J. McNabb, became a member of the firm and in 1920 this father experienced the unusual good fortune of having a second son, Carl A. McNabb, become a member of the firm. In 1923 the business was incorporated under the name of John McNabb & Sons, with John McNabb as president, William J. McNabb as vice-president, and Carl A. McNabb as secretary and treasurer. In addition to the care of his business John McNabb finds time and energy to devote actively to the Elks Order. In 1882 Mr. McNabb married Miss Mary Ann Ryan, of Muskegon, Michigan. Their four children are carrying forth the name and traditions of the McNabb family. The eldest, William J., is a graduate of the Grand Rapids high school and attended the University of Michigan for two years. His wife was Mary Monihan, of New Haven, Connecticut. They likewise have four children, Mary, Ellen, Isabel and William J., Jr. During the World war, William J. served the government in construction work and the McNabb contracting firm was very glad to make this contribution of the time and skill of one of its members to the service of the adopted country of the father and the native country of the son. The only daughter of the family, Isabel, graduated from the Grand Rapids high school and then from a girls’ school at Georgetown, Washington, D. C. The next son, Duncan J., graduated from both the Grand Rapids high school and the University of Michigan, and is now a member of the Kean-Higbee Company. He married Miss Rena Broadhead, of Detroit, Michigan, and they also have four children, John, Willis, Janet, and Stuart. Duncan McNabb responded to the call of his country and saw active service in the World war. He entered the aviation corp in 1917, was commissioned a second lieutenant, and was discharged in 1918. The next son and youngest member of the family, Carl Andrew, is the junior member of the firm of John McNabb & Sons. He was graduated from the Grand Rapids high school and then completed his course at the University of Michigan. He likewise responded to the call of duty and entered the World war in May, 1917, was commissioned a first lieutenant, and in July, 1918, went overseas. He returned to the United States in September, 1919, and was discharged in that month. He served in Russia from September, 1918, until his return to the United States. He married Marjorie Scully, of Detroit, and of this union there have been born three children, Marjorie, Janet and John Cameron. Not only have the McNabb family a splendid war record but the father, John McNabb, in times of peace while building up his successful business, has found time to render efficient service to the community, having been repeatedly honored by the citizens of Grand Rapids. Through this career of political activity, his affiliation has always been with the Republican party. Mr. McNabb served for a period of ten years as alderman from the second ward. For two years he filled the office of fire and police commissioner until his resignations HHH. He also served for five years as city commissioner, two years of which he served as mayor. He is still rendering public service as a member of the board of appeals for zoning ordinance, where he can call into play very effectively his experience as an officer of the city and his technical and business knowledge gained in over forty years as a contractor and real builder of the community. But the activities of the McNabb family are not confined entirely to the service of the father and sons, but the mother is likewise active in her affiliation with the literary and Woman’s City clubs and with her church work.

Transcriber:  Nancy Myers
Created:  2 October 2003