George E. Meagher, founder and director of the American Military Museum in downtown Charleston, died Wednesday morning at a local rehabilitation center. Meagher, 76, of James Island, had been under doctors’ care since back surgery Sept. 16, and he recently developed pneumonia, said his wife, Randi Meagher. “It’s a shock to everybody,” said Michael Lussier, the museum’s curator. “George was the museum. It was his baby all along.” The 1954 graduate of The Citadel had held many titles in other parts of the country, and in 1986 he moved to the Charleston area and opened the museum, which is filled with U.S. military artifacts from the Revolutionary War through the current war in Iraq. “The museum was started with his personal collection,” his wife said. “He had been collecting them (military artifacts) for 30 years or more.” Meagher was a stickler for authenticity and was a mesmerizing orator with a passion to educate people about the American wars. “He would give tours throughout the museum that lasted three or more hours, and people never lost interest,” his wife said. The museum will remain open, Lussier said. Meagher was a native of Long Island, N.Y., who served in the Army from 1956 to 1962. He had worked for a railroad company in Ohio, had been a real estate agent in Arlington, Va., and served as the national director of the Green Thumb highway beautification program during President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration. Meagher’s loved ones knew him as funny character. He used to tease his wife because she was never on time. This week, she said, she learned that Meagher had left an audio recording with instructions that he should have a simple funeral and that it start punctually, whether she was on time or not. “He got in the last little jab,” she said. A time and date for a memorial service at the museum will be announced. McAlister-Smith Funeral Home of Mount Pleasant is handling the arrangements. Tags: 1954

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