A beloved doctor who came to Atlantic Highlands from his native Jersey City to practice medicine and become involved in local politics, Dr. Robert S. McTague MD made headlines and friends in both politics and medicine during the time he and his family lived at their 7th and East Washington avenues home.
The valedictorian of the Class of 1927 when he graduated from St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City before going on to Georgetown University for his doctorate, Dr. McTague opened his first office in Atlantic Highlands on Memorial Parkway in late 1935. In addition to his practice, he became involved in numerous professional societies and associations while serving at both Riverview Hospital and Monmouth Medical Center and was an officer in many professional organizations. During the second World War, he was also the medical advisor and examiner for the local draft board and was the only physician serving the borough during the war, classified as essential because of his draft board commitments to local board 242.
While serving the borough, the physician, who was also a charter member of the NJ Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, delivered more than 2,000 babies.
A feisty Irishman with a mind of his own and a determination to match, the doctor was a first cousin of New York Mayor Robert Wagner and a staunch Democrat. One of the first actions he took when in 1959 he was elected Mayor of the borough, unseating a Republican hold on the borough, was to change the meeting nights from Tuesdays to Wednesdays. When asked why he was insistent on the change, he calmly explained it was for his personal convenience. When told the meeting would clash with board of education meetings, he told council nothing took precedence over borough government meetings.
Although he wife Edna Larson McTague was a teacher in the local school system and later served on the board of education, he ran for mayor on the promise of lowering taxes, the high rate of which he said was directly caused by Henry Hudson Regional school. He blamed the high cost on the Republicans and said the town needed economic minded Democrats to get things right.
Though he was credited with a master plan and better building and zoning code standards for the borough during his two years on the governing body, Dr. McTague lost in his bid for re-election to GOP candidate Russell Morgan. With the vote 849 to 848, the doctor talked about challenging the one vote loss, but decided against it while still remaining chairman of the Democrat party for another three years.
Active in St. Agnes Church and the Holy Name Society, as well as numerous other civic and Catholic organizations, Dr. McTague died in July, 1967 at the age of 58. He had suffered heart attacks in August and October two years previous. He is buried in Mount Olivet cemetery.