McDara Folan, Port chamber vet, dies

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McDara “Dara” Patrick Folan, owner of the Folan Agency, an insurance company in Port Washington, and a member of the Port Chamber of Commerce for 55 years, died on Oct. 29 at his home. He was 81.

Folan was diagnosed with liver cancer in September.

Folan, a Port Washington resident for 54 years, moved to the community in 1962 with his wife, Patricia.

He was born in Flushing on April 22, 1935, the oldest of two children of McDara P. Folan Sr. and Margaret O’Brien. He attended Brooklyn Technical High School.

After graduating from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University as an electrical engineering major, Folan began working for New York City’s Water Department, while spending his weekends helping his family’s oil burner repair business, Stephen Folan, his son, said.

“Throughout his life, he enjoyed working on electrical and remodeling projects, and helping family and friends with various home improvements,” Stephen Folan said. “This background would help him immensely in his future career as a real estate and insurance broker.”

When he moved to Port Washington, Folan joined the Frank O’Rourke Agency, an independent insurance agency, and became a partner in 1965.

In 1973, Folan bought out O’Rourke, and in 1979, he changed the name to the Folan Agency, Stephen Folan said.

Stephen Folan said the Folan Agency also owned a Century 21 real estate franchise and partially owned a travel agency.

“He continued to work daily until he was diagnosed with cancer in September,” Stephen Folan said.

At Folan’s funeral, Stephen Folan said, people spoke about Folan selling them their first home in 1963, writing their first car insurance policy and holding a mortgage so they could buy a business.

“He loved Port Washington and was part of its growth over the last 50 years,” Folan said.

Folan was involved in numerous Port Washington civic groups, including the Rotary Club, the Knights of Columbus, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and was a past exalted ruler of the Port Washington Elks Lodge.

He was also a member of the Long Island Board of Realtors, the Professional Insurance Agents and the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America.

“He was a 55-year member of the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce and a great supporter of the Chamber,” Bobbie Polay, the chamber’s executive director, said in an email. “He will be greatly missed.”

An avid sports fan, Folan was a longtime New York Rangers season ticket holder, Stephen Folan said, and he enjoyed watching the New York Yankees and New York Giants.

Stephen Folan said when he remembers his father, he thinks about all of the Rangers games they attended since 1970.

Folan held dual-citizenship in the United States and Ireland, and would regularly take  family members to Ireland and tell them about the culture.

“He was very proud of his Irish heritage and derived great joy from his regular visits to his family in Ireland,” Folan said

Stephen Folan said many memories stick out when thinking about his father.

“My office was next to his, so whenever he had problems with his cellphone or computer, he always yelled out ‘Stephen!” he said.

People had trouble pronouncing Folan’s name, usually confusing his first name for his last and sometimes calling him “Ms. Dora Folan” or “Mr. Mc Folan,” Stephen Folan said.

“My personal favorite was when someone made the Irishman an Italian — Nick Garafola,” Stephen Folan said.

Dara is survived  by his five children:  McDara Folan III (Ragan); Stephen Folan (Anne); Patricia Van Dyke (James); Sean Folan (Kristie); and Maureen Pederson (Kenneth); and 13 grandchildren.

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