Harold J. “Sonny” McGinn died peacefully at his home in Bonita Springs, Fla. on Jan. 11, 2024 with his wife, Julia, by his side. He was founder of E-Z-Doze-It Excavating in Wellfleet. The cause of death, at 81, was cancer.
The son of the late Florence E. and Harold McGinn Sr., Harold was born on June 26, 1942 in Provincetown. The only boy among five sisters, he hung out with the Conant Street Cuties, a group of mischievous neighborhood kids. They would dive for quarters and nickels (dimes were too small to see in the water) thrown by passengers on the Boston ferries. “There was a lot of rivalry under the water,” said Julia.
At 14, Harold was a mate on the Cee-Jay, a former yacht turned party fishing boat. Proud of a new knife, he threw it in a grand gesture at the new rope that Capt. Bill Cabral had coiled next to the boat. The knife cut through it. “You must be a born murderer, ’cause you’re killing me,” said Cabral.
Harold graduated from Provincetown High School in 1960, then worked as a laborer on the town’s boat slips. One day the bulldozer driver failed to appear, and Harold volunteered to run it, though he had never operated one before. That success whetted his appetite for heavy machinery.
In his early 20s, Harold tended bar at the Crown & Anchor and, with his friend John Brown, hunted deer and rabbits and fished for bass. He also married young and had two sons, but the marriage did not last.
Harold bought a backhoe and went into excavating. As a young, independent heavy machinery contractor — with one machine — he operated frugally, parking his backhoe and pickup behind Piggy’s Dance Bar, where he met Julia Paskauskas. After several dinner dates at Pucci’s, they shared the next 38 years.
In 1977, he incorporated his business as E-Z-Doze-It Excavating.
Harold taught his sons the business. When son Dennis was seven, Julia said, Harold put him on a backhoe and challenged him to make an orderly pile of the rocks strewn randomly in the back of their property. Dennis completed the task with surprising skill; he later became a successful builder of seawalls.
Harold’s greatest professional challenge came when the barrier beach near Chatham Light was breached in January 1987, sending water rushing into Chatham Harbor. E-Z-Doze-It built seawalls to stabilize the shoreline.
In the early 2000s, Harold began to step away from the business, entrusting it to his sons. Julia wanted to open a bed and breakfast, which they did in Cotuit.
Harold was an avid golfer who often played at Highland Links in North Truro, but he had an itch to do something more exciting. At 62, he qualified for his pilot’s license, and with three others bought a four-seater Piper Arrow. Julia recalled how he flew her to Martha’s Vineyard, landing on a grass runway near a beach in Oak Bluffs.
They sold the B&B in 2006. Harold put aside the airplane and bought a 45-foot Coach RV, and he and Julia traveled south and west, the trips getting longer each winter until they retired to Bonita Springs.
Harold is survived by his wife, Julia Paskauskas of Wellfleet and Bonita Springs, Fla.; sons Dennis McGinn of Wellfleet and Jesse McGinn of Bloomington, Ind.; daughters Jennifer Browne of Yarmouth Port and Katherine Bonadies of Portland, Maine; sisters Helen Matthews of Sherman, Texas, Eileen Brigham of Wellfleet, Denise Witkop of Venice, Fla., and Barbara Paulson of Kingston; seven grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.
Harold was predeceased by his sister Karen.
Memorial plans are being made for June.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Harold’s name can be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital at stjude.org.