John M. MacCausland, sailor and businessman

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John M. MacCausland

When Richard Burgess had a last-minute problem with his Star sailboat, he knew to go to his friend John M. MacCausland.

"He was leaving the next day to go to Europe," to race his own Star in Kiel, Germany, Burgess said.

"But he stayed all night" to repair the boat that Burgess himself needed for a pending East Coast race.

"He was always there for you," said Burgess, who began sailing with and against Mr. MacCausland in 1966.

On Saturday, July 23, Mr. MacCausland, 82, of Cherry Hill, a former owner of Marine Spars, a Star boat sales company there, died of complications from Parkinson's disease at Arden Courts of Cherry Hill, a memory care community.

Mr. MacCausland was the rear commodore, the equivalent of president, for the International Star Class Yacht Racing Association in San Diego since 2006, son John A. said.

"And he was president," meaning rear commodore, his son said, "of the Star Class in North America from 1985 through to 2000."

There is no local office for the organization, he said.A Star Class sailboat is 22 feet, seven inches long with a 285-square-foot sail, Mr. MacCausland's son said, and all craft must be built with the same dimensions.

"The sails are very big for the boat," he said. "It makes for a powerful boat and a challenge to sail well."

Mr. MacCausland graduated from Malvern Prep and earned a bachelor's in business at what is now Widener University.

He served in the Army from March 1954 to February 1956, for a while with a motor pool unit in West Germany.

From 1962 to 1981, he was an owner of an AMC-Jeep dealership in Devon. From 1981 until he retired in 2010, he owned the now-closed Marine Spars in Cherry Hill.

The business sold only Star Class boats and parts, his son Robert said, "from the top of the mast to the trailer."

His father grew up with summers in Stone Harbor, Robert said, and began going out with his family in Stars "when he was 4."

Besides his sons, Mr. MacCausland is survived by daughter Patricia Harmon, three sisters, and 10 grandchildren. His wife of 51 years, Ruth, died in 2009.

A visitation was set from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 31, at the Schetter Funeral Home, 304 West Marlton Pike, Cherry Hill. Services are private.

Donations may be sent to parkinsons.va.gov.

Condolences may be offered to the family at schetter.com.

wnaedele@phillynews.com 610-313-8134 @WNaedele