By Theodore N. Beitchman
Scope out Don Mahoney walking down south 20th Street, and he looks like any other successful Philly businessman.
Squared away in a blazer and slacks, cuff-linked off-pink shirt and polka-dot tie, Union League pin affixed to his lapel, his UBS pack on his arm and a smile on his face.
Cool, calm and collected.
Mild-mannered and circumspect.
Just as you would expect a first vice president in wealth management to be — Mahoney has been running money for almost 30 years, now at UBS Financial Services Inc.
But no matter where he has worked or lived, the constant has been:
Living and dying with Villanova basketball.
It’s fashionable to be a Cats fan now that they are reigning national champions, but Mahoney is no newbie.
He was in Houston, at NRG Stadium, and Mahoney and his chums were cheering like little kids at last month’s Final Four and singing “V for Villanova, V for Victory!”
“My dad took me to my first Villanova game in 1969,” he says with pride as he sips a Perrier at D’Angelo’s 16 days after the Cats won the NCAA title against North Carolina in Houston.
“It was magical — LaSalle and Kenny Durrett. And I can still smell the hot dogs steaming.”
The late, great Howard Porter, who led the Cats to the 1971 title game against UCLA, “had the greatest impact on me.”
He’s been bleeding Wildcat blue ever since, and going to games — at the Palestra, the Wells, the Pavilion and on the road — ever since.
Which doesn’t make him a blue blood.
Quite the opposite.
Mahoney was born in the old Miseracordia Hospital in West Philly 55 years ago and he grew up in Radnor, graduated from Archbishop Carroll and then from that august Augustinian college on the Main Line, in 1982.
He was enough of a baller to be a first-round draft choice in the Narberth League before he headed to Villanova, which may have been preordained by the fact that his dad, Joe, was a 1945 grad.
“You have to understand,” he says, “that my family were such Villanova basketball junkies that we had a court in my backyard with a blue pole, the semicircle was blue with a V in the middle!”
I know what you’re thinking:
What’s the big deal? A passionate alum follows his team closely and happily, going to a lot of games, raising money for the athletic program and making no bones about it.
There are men and women like Mahoney from every school in the Big 5, and you probably know a lot of them. In fact you probably are one!
But consider this:
There is a Don Mahoney Jinx.
“Villanova has never won a regional final that I attended,” he says with some sorrow. “So I was barred from going to Louisville this year. But, of course I was in Brooklyn for the first and second rounds.”
Mahoney gets his Villanova Blue-Bloodiness through his genes.
“My sister Anne was accepted to St. Joseph’s [the Cats’ archrival in what has been called The Holy War] and my dad locked her out of the house when he found out she was going!
“My father had a friend who would never attend a Villanova-St. Joe’s game because, ‘By going to that game I’m acknowledging that St. Joseph’s exists.’ ”
Mahoney’s fashion sense knows some bounds.
“I wore the same outfit from the Big East tournament to the Final Four!”
The sober-minded side of Mahoney’s universe includes managing money for some of the area’s most successful people, something he’s been doing since his days at Chase in Manhattan almost 30 years ago.
Then he came back to Philly with BNY Mellon, followed by stints at Wachovia, Commerce, Radnor Trust, Barclays and, since November 2012, at UBS Financial Services Inc.
He is on the boards of the Police Athletic League and the Philadelphia Chair of Economics Pennsylvania, not to mention various posts at the Union League.
Mahoney is married to Lisa Detwiler, general counsel of FS2Capital Partners, which is an arm of Franklin Square and one of the hottest venture firms in the region.
They have three kids — Molly, Kate and Patrick — “he’s the oldest,” Don says proudly, “and he was born right after the 1985 NCAA title game.”
Just to put Patrick into some hoops context.
Mahoney goes to every game at the Pavilion or at the Wells, “or if I am out of town my partner Bob Catelli [also a Villanova grad and UBS wealth management exec] uses the tickets.”
And because of the Mahoney Jinx he concentrated on the first- and second-round games this year in Brooklyn — “and I commuted so I could work the next day.”
When Villanova played the following weekend in Louisville in the South regionals, “everyone came to my house and we watched in my man room.
“Within five minutes of Villanova beating Kansas in the regional final,” Mahoney relates, “I got a text from [Villanova athletic director] Mark Jackson about the Final Four arrangements and I headed to the Houston Sonesta hotel,” the team’s headquarters.
And so he spent most of his time with Catelli and Jason Gamba, one of Cats coach Jay Wright’s pals, who were there for the games and the celebrations.
The night of the game meant no sleep for Mahoney, who started his way back to Philly at 4 a. m. so he could hit the office running Tuesday.
And even the plane rides back to Philly had a little bit of a story:
“I couldn’t get a non-stop flight back so I connected through Atlanta to get back to Philly. And there were some CBS guys on the Atlanta leg who were going to that week’s Masters in Augusta.
“They sat right in front of me, and one of them said, ‘That was a great game, but that was an unfortunate outcome.’”
Just another snobby North Carolina sore loser!