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Remembering Our Colleagues

This section of the website is dedicated to those of our colleagues who have paved the way for all that Boston College has become.  Consider it to be something of a Faculty Hall of Fame.

Occasionally, we will include members of the BC staff who have had a particularly strong impact on our faculty.

While sometimes the profiles here are in the form of an obituary, the intent is to celebrate and give recognition to those who made so many contributions to BC.

Of course, anyone should feel free to contribute testimonials about a colleague.

In some small way, perhaps this will expand and grow to become a "web immortal" archive of all that is great about Boston College.


Albert F. Hanwell

Albert F. Hanwell, an alumnus and retired longtime faculty member and associate dean at the Boston College School of Social Work, died on Oct. 3.

Dean Hanwell’s association with the Graduate School of Social Work – as it was then known – went back to its pre-Chestnut Hill days, when the school was housed at 126 Newbury Street in Boston. A 1949 BC graduate, he earned his master’s degree in social work at GSSW in 1952, then returned as a faculty member 10 years later, six years before the school moved to its present campus location.

After the appointment of June Gary Hopps as GSSW dean in 1976, Dean Hanwell took on more administrative responsibilities until he was appointed assistant dean in 1985, then associate dean in 1992. He, along with Hopps, retired in 2000.

Dean Hanwell was credited for working with Hopps to help GSSW become a modern, nationally recognized presence in the social work field. During the Hopps era, the school established a doctoral program – still a rarity at the time among social work schools – and innovative joint degree programs with the Carroll School of Management, Law School and Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry that promoted the interdisciplinary character of social work. GSSW joined U.S. News & World Report’s top 20 rankings of graduate social work programs, and its faculty ranked 10th in a national study on publication productivity.

In the spring of 2000, then-Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculties John J. Neuhauser praised the leadership of Hopps and Dean Hanwell: “What they have achieved is remarkable."

A World War II veteran who served in the Navy, Dean Hanwell was pre-deceased by his wife Ann. He is survived by his sons Neil – an accounting assistant for the University’s Auxiliary Services division – Kevin and John J. Hanwell, S.J., and his daughter Theresa.

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Margaret "Peg" Kenney

Dr. Kenney’s arrival at BC in the 1950s came during a watershed period for the University – she was among the first wave of female undergraduates to study at the Heights – and for the profession that she would enter. Concerns about the quality of American schoolchildren’s mathematics and science education, prompted in part by the Soviet Union’s launch of its Sputnik satellite in 1957, spurred national initiatives to strengthen math and science teaching.

Boston College would figure prominently in the efforts to reshape mathematics education, and Dr. Kenney – starting out at a time when women constituted only six percent of math Ph.D.s – would play an important role in preparing generations of future teachers at BC and elsewhere.

A Boston native and daughter of a 1930 BC alumnus, Dr. Kenney entered BC in 1953 as a member of the School of Education’s second class, but – heeding her teacher’s words of caution – initially decided on French as her major before “coming to my senses” and switching to mathematics, she recalled years later. Needing to catch up on math requirements, she took a summer course taught by Stanley Bezuszka, S.J., a mathematics education pioneer and director of BC’s Mathematics Institute – established to help improve content and instructional practice in mathematics at the pre-college level – who became Dr. Kenney’s mentor.  

After earning a master’s degree in 1959 to go along with her undergraduate degree, Dr. Kenney (who later earned a doctorate from Boston University) joined the School of Education faculty and the Mathematics Institute, as Fr. Bezuszka’s assistant director. In addition to teaching undergraduates, Dr. Kenney was heavily involved in the institute’s projects, providing assistance, instruction or coordination in 49 National Science Foundation-funded programs.

Dr. Kenney – who would later succeed Fr. Bezuszka as Mathematics Institute director – also became a major contributor to her field through her involvement in the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in Massachusetts – for which she served as president – and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, where she was on its board of directors. Dr. Kenney directed an NSF-funded NCTM project to train teachers in the instruction of discrete mathematics, which emphasizes data-gathering and problem-solving skills; the project reached thousands of grade 7-12 teachers and students.

Reflecting on her career in a 2013 Chronicle interview shortly before she retired, Dr. Kenney said, “In effect, my world has been defined by BC – personally and professionally. Many of the friends I have had from my undergraduate days remain close friends now. Spiritually, Boston College has been a trusted source for deepening my faith. Professionally, the Mathematics Institute pursuits afforded me the opportunity to work with teachers and students of all levels in this country and abroad for many years. A large number of these pre-service and veteran teachers became cherished lifelong friends.  I am forever grateful to BC for all this.”

In retirement, Dr. Kenney remained active professionally, working on a history of the Mathematics Institute for the University Archives and a new edition of a resource book for mathematics educators she had co-authored with Fr. Bezuszka.

Among many other honors Dr. Kenney received during her career, one was especially fitting: the inaugural Rev. Stanley J. Bezuszka, S.J., Achievement Award for Excellence in the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics from the ATMM.

“For decades, Peg mentored, monitored and directed mathematics education locally, regionally and nationally,” said Joseph Caruso, an ATMM board member, on the news of Dr. Kenney’s death. “Countless educators were nourished by her wisdom, understanding, expertise and leadership. How lucky we have been for well over five decades to have had Peg’s inspirational leadership, dedication and devotion to mathematics education.”

Even as Dr. Kenney tackled mathematics education issues on a national scale, her BC colleagues said, she showed equal care and concern for the BC community and her department in particular.

“I can remember Peg arguing, with quiet force, that we always needed to remember the students,” said Professor of Mathematics William Keane. “She pushed for smaller class sizes, for more options in our electives, and for innovation in teaching methods. Even as the department grew from a small group with primarily a service mission to an internationally recognized research center, we have maintained our dedication to the undergraduate program, due in no small part to Peg’s efforts.

“She was always willing to listen, and to offer concrete and unerringly helpful suggestions. There remains a tradition among math faculty of taking teaching seriously, of discussing ideas and techniques; it’s a spirit Peg helped instill.”

“She touched me personally as she touched everyone concerned with the math education of young people,” said McIntyre Professor of Mathematics Solomon Friedberg, the department chair. “Peg had great wisdom, a tremendous appetite for working to improve math education, and a big heart.”

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Gerard C. O'Brien, S.J.

Gerard C. O’Brien, S.J.  Gerry was born in Stoneham, Massachusetts, on October 29 th , 1928, but his  family lived on the west side of Malden and he was brought up there, in the  Immaculate Conception Parish, with a younger sister and brother, Virginia and Tom.  His father was descended from 19 th -century Irish immigrants, his mother from a  French-Canadian/Irish family on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Like many local  families, his parents had a difficult time economically during the Depression and  prosperity only came with World War II, when his father worked in the Boston Navy  Yard.  Gerry attended local parish grammar and high schools. Graduating in 1945,  he just missed military service and entered the College of the Holy Cross in  September of that year. Studying the classics course and already thinking about the  priesthood, he talked regularly with a Jesuit, Fr. Larry Foran, who encouraged him  to try the novitiate. In 1946, the summer after his first year of college, he entered  Shadowbrook.  He did not find the novitiate easy. “I kept wondering when the magical day  was going to come when I would start liking it,” he later said, with the honesty that  was a lifelong characteristic. But he worked at it with determination and after a  while became quite happy. “I developed a real enthusiasm for following Christ in my  life in whatever he wanted me to do.” Juniorate studies were a delight and had a  permanent influence, he said, on his later homilies and retreats.  He had the good fortune to arrive at Weston for philosophy studies in 1950,  when younger faculty members like Reggie O’Neill were just beginning efforts to  break away from the manual approach of the veteran faculty, and he developed a  love for the subject. He spent three years of regency (1953-1956)) teaching Greek,  Latin, and English at the old B.C. High in Boston, then was sent to Woodstock for  theology studies and was ordained a priest there, in 1959. Tertianship followed, a  year later, at Pomfret, in Connecticut.  He was thirty years old, he said, and didn’t really know what he wanted to do.  His love for philosophy had been rekindled while reviewing for his ad grad exam at  the end of theology studies. Superiors, though, were reluctant to send him directly  to doctoral studies—perhaps, he thought, because of some signs of psychological  troubles that had emerged during his theology studies—and assigned him instead to  Boston College, to teach philosophy. He loved the challenge of making abstruse  concepts intelligible to undergraduates and found himself rethinking many of the  things he had learned. After two years at B.C. he asked again to go to doctoral  studies, was approved, and began work at Fordham in 1963. He settled in and found  his studies agreeable but ran into trouble focusing on a thesis topic, eventually  settling, with the help of Fr. Robert O’Connell, on the early works of Augustine and  producing a disorganized first draft.  The real problem, he was reluctant to admit, was his own heavy drinking. He  returned to B.C., thesis unfinished, and resumed teaching and prefecting in the  residence halls, until Jesuit friends challenged him about his drinking. In the  summer of 1969, he entered the treatment program at the newly opened second  Guest House, in Rochester, Minnesota.  And so began the ministry that most of Gerry’s contemporaries think of when  they remember him. His time at Guest House was a turning point in his life. He  eventually finished his Fordham dissertation, continued to teach philosophy at B. C.,  and very successfully, until he retired from the classroom in 2012, but devoted a  major part of his time to alcoholism counseling, twelve-step programs, retreats, and  being a resource for innumerable Jesuits and lay colleagues who sought help in  dealing with their own problems and those of family and friends. He became a  trustee of Guest House, took on leadership roles in groups within the Society and the  Church that advocated for effective and compassionate treatment of those  struggling with alcoholism, helping to implement the New England Province’s 1970  policy on alcoholism and educate superiors and communities about its value.  In the oral history he dictated a few years before his death, he reflected on  some of the things he had learned from the struggles of his life. “When I was  growing up, everybody thought you had to be Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy  of the radio program. I knew that wasn’t me—that wasn’t anybody, of course. If you  help people develop a belief in the grace of God operating in all the circumstances of  their lives, even though the circumstances are both good and bad, that helps people  to accept God’s love in their lives. I think I am more open to understanding other  people’s difficulties and negativities, since I have seen my own up close.”  In 2012, Gerry moved to Campion Center. He continued his counseling work  and even shortly before his death traveled to give retreats. In the early morning of  August 24 th , 2015, he died peacefully in his sleep. 

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John Jensen

A memorial service was held August 6 at Christ Episcopal Church in Needham, Mass. for John Jensen, a retired Lynch School of Education professor whose research and expertise in metrics extended beyond Boston College. Dr. Jensen died on July 7 at age 78.  John Jensen Dr. John Jensen. Dr. Jensen joined the Lynch School faculty in 1965, and taught a variety of courses in research design, statistics, data analysis, computer programming, psychometrics and test construction. He also served as director of the University Computing Center, and on the Faculty Grievance Committee. He retired in 2002.  In 1978, Dr. Jensen became president of Metrics Associates Inc., which provides data analysis, program evaluation, measuring instrument development and other related services to public and private education institutions and programs in greater Boston. That year, he began a long and rewarding collaboration with the Inter-Hospital Study Group for Anesthesia Education to produce, distribute, score and generate reports for Anesthesia Knowledge Test series. The AKT series is currently administered annually to more than 1,500 residents in anesthesia in 140 medical schools internationally.  Lynch School Professor Larry Ludlow, chair of the Educational Research, Measurement and Evaluation Department in which Dr. Jensen worked, praised his colleague in an online tribute.  “He was one of the first faculty to warmly welcome and guide me when I started at BC fresh out of grad school and totally unprepared for academic life.  [John] was a great mentor in teaching (don't teach the book – anyone can do that – teach what you know); service (this is a great life we have, give back to the University and students); and research (be humble – how important is that paper to anyone other than yourself?).”  A native of Rochester, NY, Dr. Jensen graduated from Cornell University and earned his doctorate in education from the University of Rochester. 

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Edward B. Smith

SMITH, Edward B., PhD. Of Lexington, formerly of Needham, April 10, 2016, age 87, popular Teacher and Dean of Undergraduate Students at Boston College for many years. Known also for his complete devotion to his wife, Ursula. They met on her birthday in 1988 at a support group for men and women who had lost a spouse. Two years later, they were married at St. Catherine's Church in Westford. It was a fairy tale marriage: happy, funny, and a life-time of joyous memories. Prof. Smith earned PhD. from the University of Chicago in 1962, then taught in Jesuit high schools and colleges for many years. Prof. Smith's first wife, Sharon Clare, died in 1987, after six months of sickness. 

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Raymond G. Helmick, S.J.

Raymond G. Helmick, S.J.  Raymond Helmick was born on September 7 th , 1931, in Arlington,  Massachusetts, a western suburb of Boston, and grew up there. His  father had come from Midwestern German Lutheran stock; his mother  had been born in Boston, the daughter of Irish immigrants. Ray was the  second of three children. His sister Marie was the oldest; his brother  Bill, six years younger, became a diocesan priest. Ray attended St. Agnes  Parish schools through the ninth grade and then transferred to Boston  College High School. He graduated in 1949 and entered the  Shadowbrook novitiate on his 18 th birthday.  It turned out he would enter the Society twice. The first time he  developed a stomach ulcer during his primi year and, because there had  been a spate of ulcer diagnoses in the novitiate, superiors decided that  first-year novices so afflicted would be sent home. Ray was determined  to re-apply, however, and he entered Shadowbrook again in February,  1951. This time proved more auspicious and his novitiate and juniorate  years passed uneventfully. After philosophy studies at Weston (1954-  1957), he spent regency teaching history and religion at St. George’s  College in Kingston, Jamaica (1957-1960).  He did theology studies at Sankt Georgen, in Frankfurt, Germany,  and was ordained a priest in the Frankfurt cathedral in August 1963. He  returned to the U.S. the following year for tertianship at Pomfret,  Connecticut. As was the custom with men assigned to the missions, he  returned to Jamaica and St. George’s.  Here, Ray’s future work with social and political structures and  conflict-resolution initiatives began to take shape. In walks through  Kingston this blond, precisely spoken, reserved, very white man got to  know a number of Rastafarians, a bible-oriented group of urban and  rural poor often demonized in Jamaican society. He became something  of a sympathetic friend, representing them to government agencies and  writing in positive terms about them in the Jamaican press.  Expecting to teach at the Kingston seminary, Ray left Jamaica in  1967 to pursue graduate studies in ecumenical theology at Union  Theological Seminary and Columbia University. In the summer of 1972  he led a group of theology students to Belfast, a city notable then for its  sectarian conflicts. The visit proved life-changing, he said. Driving a  rental car around the group’s work sites and talking to everybody as he  went, he established friendships with people on all sides of the religious  and political troubles. Perceiving that the problems were less religious  than economic, Ray set about bringing groups together to address one  key issue, job development. He agreed to lead an effort to persuade  American and British companies to establish manufacturing facilities in  neighborhoods accessible to both Protestant and Catholic populations,  whose safety would be guaranteed by both government and IRA  factions. This occupied much of his time during his last year at Union.  When he left Union in 1973 he moved to London, where he set up  an ecumenical center focused on conflict resolution (he preferred the  Mennonite term “conflict transformation”), a joint ministry of the Irish  and British Jesuit provinces. Dialogue and correspondence with key  political and religious leaders in the patient search for solutions to  apparently intractable problems became the center of his work over the  next four decades—in Ireland, Lebanon, Kurdish Iraq, Israel, Palestine,  and the Balkans. It was necessarily a hidden apostolate, as it often  involved figures whose names would otherwise grab headlines, in many  of the world’s hot spots—simply applying the principles of Ignatian  discernment, he described it.  From 1982 to 1985 he was based at NGOs in Washington. Then  he moved to Boston College, where for the next seventeen years he  continued his conflict-resolution work while teaching related courses in  the theology department and at St. John’s Seminary. He made firm  friendships in ecumenical circles in Boston’s theological schools. In  2002-2004 he served as senior associate at the Center for Strategic & amp;  International Studies, in Washington.  Ray had a lifelong interest in music, architecture, and other art  forms. When he graduated from B.C. High he had been offered a piano  scholarship at the New England Conservatory but chose the Jesuit  novitiate instead. In his years of graduate study at Union he relaxed by  building a harpsichord. When he returned to Boston, his artistic  interests blossomed again. Some time before, his brother Bill had  become pastor of St. Theresa’s, a large parish in the heavily Catholic  West Roxbury section of Boston, and was now renovating the church.  Ray built a magnificent free-standing tabernacle of gilded and  polychromed wood, modeled on 15 th -century examples at Louvain.  Then he began work on a mosaic of Christ healing, for a wall next to a  handicapped ramp at the church. A large mosaic of St. Theresa was  unfinished when he died.  Illness brought him to Campion Center in 2012. He continued as  many of his activities as health allowed (even teaching on a part-time  basis at B.C. until 2015), but the last years of his life were marked by a  series of complications and hospitalizations. He seemed to rally from  each with his characteristic cheerfulness, patience, and wit intact, but  his body was slowly giving out.  Just after Easter, his brother Bill had major surgery and the  superior at Campion invited him to recuperate there. Meanwhile Ray  had been hospitalized again. The two brothers arrived at Campion  within a day of each other and occupied nearby rooms. Family  members gathered for a lunch celebrating Ray’s upcoming 85 th birthday.  Three days later, his conditioned worsened and Ray was anointed.  Cardinal Sean O’Malley came to pray at his bedside. He died peacefully  in the early morning of April 21 st , 2016.

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Donald J. Plocke, S.J.

Don Plocke was born on May 5 th , 1929 in Ansonia, a small town northwest of  New Haven, Connecticut, where his grandfather had been one of the founders of the  Lithuanian parish. Don was the first child of Joseph and Stella (Loda) Plocke. A  sister, Joyce, was four years younger. His father worked as a machinist for a  manufacturer of heavy machinery. His mother was an accomplished amateur  photographer. Don grew up there, attended local Catholic schools through the 9 th  grade, and was a Mass server from early childhood. During his high-school years, at  Ansonia’s public school, he developed a strong interest in physics and won a college  scholarship funded by an Ansonia industrialist for a local graduate. He entered Yale  in 1946.  At Yale two experiences shaped his future. He got a work-study job in the lab  of one of the pioneers in the field of biophysics. And one day, thinking about  whether he should go on to graduate school, he quite unexpectedly found himself  asking, “What if you should become a priest?” Conversations with the only Jesuit he  knew, a graduate student in education from the Philippines, led him to apply to the  New England Province and he entered the Shadowbrook novitiate the year he  graduated from Yale, 1950.  After first vows and a year of juniorate, he spent three years in philosophy  studies at Weston. Then the decision was made that he should pursue a doctoral  degree in biophysics. M.I.T. accepted him and once again he found an influential  mentor, at one of the top Boston hospitals, to guide his studies. He spent the next  five years (1956-1961) living in the largely graduate-student community on  Newbury St. in Boston’s Back Bay and walking back and forth across the Charles  River to his work at M.I.T. or across Kenmore Square to the Brigham. Degree in  hand, he returned to Weston for theology studies. He was ordained a priest at  Weston in 1964 and, a year later, requested to do tertianship at Muenster, Germany,  which had the plus of enabling him to spend time at the end of that year in the lab of  a Nobel Prize winner in biophysics.  In 1966 he began his long association with Boston College as an assistant  professor in the Biology Department. He began teaching undergraduates and  supervising master’s and doctoral students, established his lab, won grants for his  research in molecular biology from the American Cancer Society, and produced a  string of publications. In the early seventies he served five years as chairman of the  department, which he found stressful, as the department was seriously divided as to  what its focus should be. His research suffered during his tenure as chair but a  summer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and a sabbatical at a research  center in Switzerland enabled him to re-focus his work and complete a project in an  unfamiliar area of molecular biology that had captured his interest. In his later  years he acknowledged that he found his greatest joy in teaching and advising his  students. For B.C.’s Capstone Program, an array of courses for seniors that  encourage them to connect what they have learned in their undergraduate years  with their plans for the future, he developed a course about the relationship  between religion and science, with the aid of a grant from the Templeton  Foundation. He spent a sabbatical at Oxford working on this topic and taught the  courses through the last years of his working life.  In 2011, a diagnosis of cancer led to his being assigned to Campion Center.  Increasingly limited physically and confined to a wheelchair, he was typically found  at his laptop, praying or pursuing his interests in science and religion. In late  February 2016 a series of hospitalizations led to his declining further treatment and  he died peacefully during the evening of March 5 th , 2016. 

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John Fitzgerald, English

FITZGERALD, Professor John J, age 96, of Millis, Sat March 26, 2016. He was Beloved husband of Margaret (Zack) Fitzgerald, loving father of Christopher Fitzgerald of Millis, Terence Fitzgerald and his wife Jacquelyn of Milton, Paul Fitzgerald and his wife Diane of Groton, and John ‘Jack’ Fitzgerald and his wife Loretta of Millis. Also survived by 5 Grandchildren. 

John was the son of the late Richard and Catherine (Sheehan) Fitzgerald. He had two sisters; Mary and Margaret, and two brothers; Richard and William. He attended and graduated from Malden Catholic High School and received his Ph.D. from Fordham University.

A Millis resident from 1959, he was an active communicant of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Millis where he was a lay minister of the Eucharist and a lector for many years.

He retired after over 50 years of employment as an Associate Professor of English Literature at Boston College. He was a popular Professor and would weave family stories into his lectures over which he labored to keep fresh and interesting. He corrected students’ double-spaced papers armed with a red pen and would re-write their poorly written sentences and correct their grammatical errors so they could improve their writing skills on their next papers. Depending on the student, there could be as much red ink as the original. He corrected the worst papers first, and stayed up late to correct all of them so they could be returned in time to benefit the students’ next assignments. He loved his best writers, delighted in recognizing students’ improvements, and savored the best original metaphors students at any writing skill level might form. Thousands of BC students learned to write properly under his dedicated tutelage.

He was a scholar. Words were earnestly traced back to their roots in Middle English, Old English, the Romance languages, Latin and Greek. He translated ancient Greek and Latin to English but not just into direct and literal translations but into beautiful English sentences reminiscent of the writings of the founding Fathers. He spent months studying Spanish in Mexico and for a time was the English Department’s official liaison to Spanish-speaking students. He had many friends at Boston College and reveled in contributing to the intellectual banter among the professors.

He was a traveler. In 1967 for sabbatical he took his family of six to Europe. The trip started aboard the original ocean liner, The Queen Elizabeth. Upon landing in Cork, he had an unexpectedly week-long stop at an Irish Bed & Breakfast while son Terry’s appendix was removed. He was skilled with words, but was not mechanically or athletically gifted and was exasperated driving his big American car on the wrong side of the road in the busy city of London. In fact, driving in any major city was like being in the crater of Mt. Vesuvius –hot magma on the inside with vents of steam issuing forth, which delighted the four boys and that only served to raise the emotional temperature in the car even higher. Nevertheless, he persevered and brought the family to other cities including Paris, Munich, Stuttgart, Vienna, Venice, Florence, Rome and finally to Naples where the ocean liner The SS Rotterdam was waiting. In 1969, he took just his wife for a trip to Spain and Portugal. In 1973 he took his wife and son Paul for a five week trip behind the Iron Curtain.  He became an avid camper, towing a pop-up trailer for lengthy family vacations to Florida, cross-country to the West Coast, and trips to Canada. Stays at the National Parks were his favorites, with regular camping trips to the Shakespeare Festival with just his wife a close second. After his official retirement, he and his wife took trips to Greece, Russia, India, and China. And after each day of traveling, no matter how weary he was, he would write in his hardcover journal the events of the day. He recently read his old journals.

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Radu Florescu, History

Boston College History Professor Emeritus Radu Florescu, co-author of the bestseller In Search of Dracula, which revealed the historical identity of the legendary Dracula for the first time, died in France on May 18 at age 88. He had taught at Boston College for 45 years.

Dr. Florescu and the late Raymond T. McNally, also a professor in the Boston College History Department, published In Search of Dracula in 1972. Their book, which was researched in Romania under a Fulbright grant, was the first to identify Vlad Tepes, a 15th century prince, as the Dracula of literature. Vlad Tepes was known as Vlad the Impaler for impaling his enemies on stakes. Dr. Florescu also located Vlad Tepes’ castle in the Transylvanian Alps. The book garnered the writing duo international fame, landing Dr. Florescu on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”

Dr. Florescu and the late Raymond T. McNally, also a professor in the Boston College History Department, published In Search of Dracula in 1972. Their book, which was researched in Romania under a Fulbright grant, was the first to identify Vlad Tepes, a 15th century prince, as the Dracula of literature. Vlad Tepes was known as Vlad the Impaler for impaling his enemies on stakes. Dr. Florescu also located Vlad Tepes’ castle in the Transylvanian Alps. 

The book garnered the writing duo international fame, landing Dr. Florescu on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”

Originally banned in Romania, In Search of Dracula was only made available in that country after the fall of Communism. The book has since been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Dr. Florescu and Dr. McNally authored several other books: Dracula Prince of Many FacesThe Complete DraculaThe Essential DraculaDracula: A Biography of Vlad the Impaler, and In Search of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Florescu also wrote In Search of Frankenstein and In Search of the Pied Piper, among other books and scholarly articles.

Born in Bucharest, Dr. Florescu was the son of a Romanian diplomat. He left Romania at age 13 at the outbreak of World War II. At the heart of Dr. Florescu’s academic study of Dracula was a desire to shine a light on Romania and Eastern Europe. For many years, he directed the East European Research Center at Boston College. He organized symposia and cultural events celebrating Romanian heritage. He also donated hundreds of books on Romanian history to Boston College. He advised the late US Senator Edward Kennedy on Romanian affairs and the US State Department during the reign of communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu. In 1996, Dr. Florescu was appointed Honorary Consul of Romania for New England. In this capacity, he oversaw the presidential and parliamentary voting by Romanians living in the Greater Boston area.  In 2004, he was invited by President Bill Clinton to attend the White House ceremony when Romania was granted membership to NATO.

Tributes to Dr. Florescu have come from throughout the international community. On behalf of King Michael of Romania, the palace issued the following statement, “Through his work, Professor Florescu built a bridge between Romania and the United States, giving Romanian history a drop of universality.”

"In the past century, no American has educated more Americans about Romania -- and Dracula -- than Professor Florescu. I was lucky to be one of his grateful students," said former US Ambassador to Romania Jim Rosapepe.

Dr. Florescu graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oxford. He earned a doctorate from Indiana University. He joined the Boston College faculty in 1953 and taught in the History Department until his retirement in 1998.

Dr. Florescu’s last public appearance at Boston College was in the fall of 2013 for a book signing for his newest publication, co-authored with Matei Cazacu, Dracula’s Bloodline: A Florescu Family Saga, which tells the story of the links between the Florescus of Romania and Vlad the Impaler.

Dr. Florescu is survived by his wife, Nicole, his children Nicholas ‘74, John ‘76, Radu ‘83 and Alexandra Lobkowicz ’85, and 13 grandchildren.

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Marjory Gordon, CSON

A funeral Mass was celebrated Monday in St. Ignatius Church for Professor Emerita Marjory Gordon, a Connell School of Nursing faculty member for 23 years and an internationally recognized expert on the development of standardized nursing language, who died on April 29.

Dr. Gordon was the creator of the Eleven Functional Health Patterns (FHP), which has provided generations of nurses with a format for patient diagnosis. Her groundbreaking work in clinical reasoning and nursing language development was credited with giving nurses a voice in patient care outcomes and leading to the adoption of nursing language in the emerging area of electronic medical recordkeeping.

She published four books, including the Manual of Nursing Diagnosis, which is in its 12th edition and has been translated into almost a dozen languages, and lectured to nurses and educators on nursing diagnosis and FHP in Japan, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Singapore, Australia, Brazil, and throughout Central America.

In 1982, Dr. Gordon became the first president of NANDA, the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association. She was principal investigator on research projects involving nursing processes and nursing diagnoses, and co-director of a US Public Health Service Grant to improve nurses’ diagnostic and ethical reasoning.

Dr. Gordon, who retired from the Connell School in 1996, was a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, which in 2009 honored her as a Living Legend of the Academy. Speaking at the award ceremony, her Connell School colleague Professor Sister Callista Roy said, “She began this work [of creating a common nursing language] when computers were just starting. And, now this is the basis for the nursing component of the electronic medical record. I think she’s a role model for all us. She is constantly raising the standards and the clarity of nursing diagnosis so as to give nursing a voice and visibility in health care.”
Sister Roy said that because of Dr. Gordon’s work, “nursing as a discipline is stronger in the US and around the world.”

Among many other honors, Dr. Gordon was presented with the Mentor’s Award from NANDA-International, and was among the members of the inaugural class of NANDA International Fellows inducted in 2012. In a tribute to Dr. Gordon on its website last week, NANDA-International called her “an ever-present voice for standardized nursing diagnoses that would support clinical decision making.

“The fact that she insisted on diagnostic criteria to support that critical thinking – before the introduction of technology or electronic health records – is a testament to her vision as well as her awareness of the need for accuracy in diagnosis to drive quality, safe patient care.”

She also received the Massachusetts Nurses Association Education Award; Japanese Society for Nursing Diagnosis’ Distinguished Service Award, and the Massachusetts Association of Registered Nurses Living Legend Award.

Dr. Gordon earned bachelor of science and master of science degrees from Hunter College, City University of New York and a doctoral degree from Boston College.

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Carol Petillo, History

A memorial service was held on April 2 at Union Church in Vinalhaven, Me., for retired Professor of History Carol M. Petillo, who died on March 26. She was 74.

Dr. Petillo’s teaching and research interests focused on American foreign policy and military history. She taught a popular course on the Vietnam War that included classroom visits by veterans. Her publications included Douglas MacArthur: The Philippine Years, which examined the legendary general’s experiences in the Philippines prior to the beginning of World War II; the book was among the sources used for the film “MacArthur” shown on the PBS “American Experience” series.

A native of Mannington, WV, Dr. Petillo earned her undergraduate degree at Montclair State College and her graduate degrees at Rutgers University. She joined the BC faculty in 1979 and retired in 2002.

She is survived by her husband, Wayne Cooper; children John Joseph Petillo II, Christopher David Petillo, Anna Maria Petillo and Joseph Ralph Petillo; and six grandchildren.

Gifts in her memory may be made to the Humane Society of Knox County, PO Box 1294, Rockland, Me. 04841, or to the Islands Community Medical Services, PO Box 812, Vinalhaven, Me. 04863.

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Kenneth Schwartz, CSOM

Funeral services were held on Sept. 6 at Stanetsky Memorial Chapel in Brookline for retired Carroll School of Management Associate Professor of Accounting Kenneth Schwartz, who died Sept. 3. He was 65.

Dr. Schwartz taught at the Carroll School from 1986 until his retirement at the end of last academic year, and served as chairman of the Accounting Department from 1990-94. He also taught at Boston University.

Widely praised for his teaching, Dr. Schwartz also was well regarded for his research on the regulation of public companies and enforcement actions relating to financial statement manipulation and audit failure. He served as an accounting expert in litigation cases involving complex transactions and structured business arrangements and their compliance with generally accepted accounting principles.

Dr. Schwartz wrote on the analysis of financially distressed firms, business restructuring and sell-off activities, and the resolution of accounting disputes with auditors, and published articles in prestigious management journals such as The Accounting Review, Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory, Journal of Financial Economics, and Academy of Management Journal.  

He is survived by his wife, Julia Heskel; his daughters, Alyson Strianese and Karly Servais; his sister Judith Rosenthal, and his grandson Matthew Servais.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Schwartz Strianese Fund for Esophageal Cancer Research at Dana Farber Cancer Institute at

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Ray Biggar, English

Raymond Biggar Died peacefully and with dignity at home in Saco on Wednesday, September 30, after a long illness. Ray grew up in Saco. A member of the Class of 1948 at Thornton Academy, he was class president his senior year. He graduated in 1952 from Bowdoin College with an A.B. in English, and in 1953 from Harvard University with a Master of Arts in Teaching. He taught at Scituate High School, Scituate, MA and Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA, before entering the doctoral program in English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1961. He taught Medieval English literature, the History of the English Language, and English as a Second Language for Foreign Students in the English Department at Boston College for over 40 years, retiring in 2000. In 2011, he moved to Saco to an independent living cottage at Atlantic Heights. He enjoyed the Atlantic Heights Cottage Residents Community, especially Monday morning Men's Discussion Group. Raymond is survived by his wife of fifteen years, Cynthia Bland-Biggar, who currently serves as Pastor of the Standish Congregational Church, UCC in Standish; by sons Robert Biggar (Angela) of Setauket, NY and James Biggar (Stephanie Boutin) of Arlington, MA and by his grandchildren Andrew, Jeremy, Talia and Emily Biggar; by three stepchildren from his first marriage, Michael Herz (Jean Roiphe), Jonathan Herz (Carolyn) and Margaret Albright (John) and their families. He is also survived by his sister Ruth B. Claypool of Acton, MA; by several nieces, a nephew and 8 step grandchildren Daniel, Zachary and Rachel Herz-Roiphe; Ethan and Seth Herz; and Kate "Sam", Emma and Jake Albright. He was predeceased by his brother Robert Watson Biggar, Jr. (Bob). Ray will be sadly missed by his beloved Border Collie dog, Sophie (whom he walked daily until Friday, September 25) and by his cat companion, Lily.

The Biggar family wishes to acknowledge with gratitude the excellent care provided by Dr. Kurt Ebrahim and Danielle Bowen NPC and the staff at New England Center for Cancer Medicine; by Cecile Roy R.N., and other staff members at the Ambulatory Care Unit of Southern Maine Health Care Center; and by Hospice of Southern Maine. A memorial service will be held at 11a.m. on Saturday, October 3, 2015 at Standish Congregational Church, UCC 25 Oak Hill Road, Standish. A graveside service will be held at the Biggar family plot in Laurel Hill Cemetery at 2 p.m. the same day. Dennett, Craig and Pate Funeral Home, 365 Main Street, SACO is in charge of the arrangements. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Ray's memory to Thornton Academy, 438 Main Street, Saco, ME 04072; Bowdoin College Scholarship, 4500 College Station, Brunswick, ME 04011;or to Standish Congregational Church, UCC, 25 Oak Hill Road, Standish, ME 04084.

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Ray Biggar, English

Raymond Biggar Died peacefully and with dignity at home in Saco on Wednesday, September 30, after a long illness. Ray grew up in Saco. A member of the Class of 1948 at Thornton Academy, he was class president his senior year. He graduated in 1952 from Bowdoin College with an A.B. in English, and in 1953 from Harvard University with a Master of Arts in Teaching. He taught at Scituate High School, Scituate, MA and Bridgewater State College, Bridgewater, MA, before entering the doctoral program in English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1961. He taught Medieval English literature, the History of the English Language, and English as a Second Language for Foreign Students in the English Department at Boston College for over 40 years, retiring in 2000. In 2011, he moved to Saco to an independent living cottage at Atlantic Heights. He enjoyed the Atlantic Heights Cottage Residents Community, especially Monday morning Men's Discussion Group. Raymond is survived by his wife of fifteen years, Cynthia Bland-Biggar, who currently serves as Pastor of the Standish Congregational Church, UCC in Standish; by sons Robert Biggar (Angela) of Setauket, NY and James Biggar (Stephanie Boutin) of Arlington, MA and by his grandchildren Andrew, Jeremy, Talia and Emily Biggar; by three stepchildren from his first marriage, Michael Herz (Jean Roiphe), Jonathan Herz (Carolyn) and Margaret Albright (John) and their families. He is also survived by his sister Ruth B. Claypool of Acton, MA; by several nieces, a nephew and 8 step grandchildren Daniel, Zachary and Rachel Herz-Roiphe; Ethan and Seth Herz; and Kate "Sam", Emma and Jake Albright. He was predeceased by his brother Robert Watson Biggar, Jr. (Bob). Ray will be sadly missed by his beloved Border Collie dog, Sophie (whom he walked daily until Friday, September 25) and by his cat companion, Lily.

The Biggar family wishes to acknowledge with gratitude the excellent care provided by Dr. Kurt Ebrahim and Danielle Bowen NPC and the staff at New England Center for Cancer Medicine; by Cecile Roy R.N., and other staff members at the Ambulatory Care Unit of Southern Maine Health Care Center; and by Hospice of Southern Maine. A memorial service will be held at 11a.m. on Saturday, October 3, 2015 at Standish Congregational Church, UCC 25 Oak Hill Road, Standish. A graveside service will be held at the Biggar family plot in Laurel Hill Cemetery at 2 p.m. the same day. Dennett, Craig and Pate Funeral Home, 365 Main Street, SACO is in charge of the arrangements. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Ray's memory to Thornton Academy, 438 Main Street, Saco, ME 04072; Bowdoin College Scholarship, 4500 College Station, Brunswick, ME 04011;or to Standish Congregational Church, UCC, 25 Oak Hill Road, Standish, ME 04084.

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Peter Airasian

Dr. Peter W. Airasian, of Lexington, SC, formerly of Watertown, Natick and Harwich. Beloved husband of the late Gwendolyn K. (Foley). Loving father of Lynn A. and her husband David P. FitzGerald of NC and Gregory P. and his wife Karen F. of SC. Also survived by three grandchildren and three step-grandchildren. Dear brother of John S. of Watertown and Paul M. of Belmont. Funeral from the MacDonald, Rockwell & MacDonald Funeral Home at 270 Main St., on Rt. 20, Watertown, on Tuesday, April 15th at 8:00 A.M., followed by a Funeral Mass at 9:00 A.M. in St. Luke's Parish, 132 Lexington St., Belmont. Relatives and friends kindly invited. Interment Mt. Auburn Cemetery. Visiting hours Monday, April 14th from 4:00-8:00 P.M. Contributions may be made in Peter's memory to the Campus School at Boston College by visiting or by mailing donations to Boston College Campus School, In Honor of Peter Airasian, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill, MA 02467. 

Published in The Boston Globe on Apr. 13, 2014

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Joe Casey

Joe Casey, S.J., Theology

Jesuit Father Joseph H. Casey was born in Lynn, Massachusetts, on Oct. 13, 1917. His father was a laborer and the family, which included an older brother and a younger sister, lived in very modest circumstances. When Fr. Casey was five, the family moved to Flint, Michigan, for two years, but essentially Fr. Casey grew up in St. Patrick’s Parish in Lynn. Fr. Casey contributed to the family income, delivering newspapers and selling eggs and candy door-to-door. When he was 11 he learned caddying at a North Shore golf course and continued doing this through high school, becoming an adept golfer in the process and acquiring what he called “street smarts” about getting along with people and earning money. He went to St. Mary’s Boys High in Lynn and then to Boston College for a year.

In August 1936, he entered the novitiate at Shadowbrook. He said later that at that point he was much more interested in being a priest than a Jesuit and indeed thought that the Jesuit novitiate might eventually lead him to St. John’s Seminary in Boston. But his mother died while he was a second-year novice and the kindness of the Jesuits at St. Mary’s Parish in the North End of Boston, where he stayed for her funeral, led him to “fall in love with the Society.”

His course of studies was typical of the period. After novitiate and juniorate at Shadowbrook, he did philosophy studies at Weston from 1940 to 1943. Regency was at the recently opened Fairfield Prep, from 1943 to 1945. His interest and talent in philosophy was already evident, and he was then sent to Fordham to do a one-year master’s program from 1945 to 1946. He returned to Weston for theology studies and was ordained to the priesthood in June 1949. A year later, he went to Wépion, Belgium, for tertianship. In 1951-53, he was sent to the Gregorian University in Rome, where he earned a doctorate in the customary biennium of studies for men assigned to teach in formation programs.

In 1953, he joined the philosophy faculty of Weston College, teaching natural theology, linguistic analysis and logic. During his Weston teaching years, he audited courses in analytic philosophy at Harvard and at NYU. His Weston teaching ended in the late sixties when the faculty and student body moved to Boston College. Fr. Casey chose to continue living at Weston, in part because he regularly did parish ministry at the local parish, St. Julia’s. He also gave retreats and was sought after as a confessor and spiritual director by religious and diocesan clergy.

In 2005, when he was 87, he was asked to retire from his position at Boston College, and he found an alternative when Blessed John XXIII seminary invited him to teach a course on the thought of Germain Grisez. In the years that followed, he continued to write on Grisez, the philosophical arguments for the existence of God, the natural law and moral theology. He also continued serving at St. Julia’s and other neighboring parishes.

Though in no apparent ill health beforehand, in early February of 2015 he grew noticeably weaker and died peacefully on Feb. 27, eight months short of his 98th birthday. 

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Cmdr Shea

Jack Shea, Classical Studies

A funeral Mass was held March 18 at St. Bartholomew Church in Needham for John R. “Jack” Shea ’58, a former Boston College faculty member who was the recipient of the famous “Letter to Jackie” – a wartime message from his father considered by many as a touchstone of classic American values.

Dr. Shea, who taught part-time in the Classical Studies Department for many years, died on March 14. He was 78.

A native of Arlington who graduated from Boston College High School, Dr. Shea was awarded a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship – which encouraged college students to consider teaching careers at the university level – during his senior year at BC. He later earned his doctorate in classical philology at Harvard University.

But early in his life, Dr. Shea’s education had a uniquely personal, and tragic, dimension. In 1942, with the US at war, his father, Lt. Commander John J. Shea – a former BC football star – prepared to ship out for duty in the Pacific. In June, Commander Shea spoke by phone one last time with his wife and then his five-year-old son. “Daddy,” young Jackie told his father, “you’ll be home in two weeks.”

Sometime after that conversation, John Shea composed a letter to his boy explaining, as best he could, why his absence would extend far longer than two weeks: “Because there are people and countries who want to change our nation, its ideals, form of government and way of life,” he wrote, “we must leave our homes and families to fight.” Protecting America, he told Jackie, “is an honor and a duty which your daddy has to do before he can come home to settle down with you and mother.”

Commander Shea also sought to inculcate in Jackie the virtues of honor and duty to uphold at home, and to offer guidance he believed would benefit Jackie. “Study hard when you go to school. Be a leader in everything good in life. Be a good Catholic and you can’t help being a good American. Play fair always. Strive to win, but if you must lose, lose like a gentleman and a good sportsman. Don’t ever be a quitter either in sports or in your business or profession when you grow up.”

After passing along more such advice, Commander Shea concluded by asking Jackie to pray for his return. “And if it is God’s will that he does not, be the kind of boy and man your daddy wants you to be.”

[The full version can be read at]

On Sept. 15, 1942, Commander Shea was killed in action near Guadalcanal.

But the “Letter to Jackie” ensured that Commander Shea’s memory, like his tribute to American values and beliefs, lived on. The Boston Globe, New York Times and other publications picked up the story and the letter was widely reprinted. After Dr. Shea’s three sisters – all teachers in Boston and Cambridge – shared the letter in their classrooms, copies were distributed for classroom use in Boston schools. Major figures of the day, including Boston Archbishop Richard Cushing, extolled its tone and contents.

A super-destroyer was christened the USS Shea – Dr. Shea and his mother attended the launch – and in 1963 Boston College named its baseball field after Commander Shea. The Burns Library included a copy of the letter in its archives, and over the years became one of its most requested items.

Dr. Shea began teaching ancient Greek and Latin language classes at BC in 1975, and occasionally taught courses on literature and etymology. In 2001, Dr. Shea donated the original Letter to Jackie to BC.

Interviewed by Boston College Magazine in 1991, Dr. Shea, by then himself a father of three, reflected on the letter and its impact. “In the space of several handwritten pages, he put down things that I hope I have communicated to my kids. I think what made the letter so appealing [to the public] is that he took some thoughts which were probably shared by many, and expressed them very directly.”

The fact that these feelings of patriotism and civic values were voiced by a Catholic, he added, was significant at the time, since Catholics were not yet viewed as part of the American mainstream.

In a 2001 Boston Globe story reporting on Dr. Shea’s donation of the letter, University Historian Thomas O’Connor explained the impact it had on wartime America.

“The Allied forces were losing everywhere. Hitler had invaded Russia. The Japanese were taking over the Pacific. People were asking, ‘Where did we go wrong?’ Then this letter came out and reaffirmed all the best values people thought we had lost.”

He added, “Not only is it a historical treasure, it speaks to the values of the college itself in ways we have trouble articulating today. Future generations will profit immeasurably from this.”

BC colleagues said that Dr. Shea enjoyed a successful and productive career as a teacher, researcher and translator. One of his major achievements was his extensive translation, from Renaissance Latin into English, of 16th-century physician Johann Weyer's treatise De praestigiis daemonum, regarded by many scholars – “one of the 10 most significant books of all time,” according to Sigmund Freud – as an important work for Weyer’s encyclopedic grasp of biblical, classic and patristic literature. In addition to translating the book, his colleagues noted, Dr. Shea provided most of the biblical and classical citations for the book's notes.

“Jack was respected and loved because of who he was and how he treated students, colleagues and other people,” said Classical Studies Research Professor Dia Philippides.


Jacqueline Criscenti

Dr. Jacqueline P. (Penez) Criscenti of Needham, May 24, 2015. Beloved wife of the late Dr. Joseph T. Criscenti. Devoted mother of Louise J. Criscenti of Albuquerque, NM. Also survived by her sister, Lily Ethier of Newton, brother-in-law Sam Criscenti of Michigan, and several nieces and nephews. Jacqueline was born in Woonsocket, RI and graduated suma com laude from Regis College in 1945. She received a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Minnesota in 1954. While a faculty member at Boston College, she married Joseph T. Criscenti, who passed away in 2013. They were married for 56 years. Jacqueline retired from academia as a professor at Regis College. In retirement, Jacqueline continued to enjoy learning mathematics and computer science, combining tours of the country with visits to her daughter, and living among friendly neighbors in Needham. Funeral from the George F. Doherty & Sons Funeral Home, 1305 Highland Ave. NEEDHAM, Friday at 9 am followed by a Funeral Mass in St. Bartholomew Church, Needham at 10 am. Relatives and friends kindly invited. Visiting hours Thursday from 4-8 pm. Interment in Holyhood Cemetery, Brookline. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made in Jackie's memory to Regis College, Office of Institutional Advancement & Alumni Relations, 235 Wellesley St., Weston, MA 02493 

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James Murphy, Woods College of Advancing Studies

A memorial Mass be will be held on Nov. 13 for James F. Murphy Jr. ’58, a Korean War veteran turned novelist who taught for 28 years in the Woods College of Advancing Studies. Prof. Murphy died on Sept. 27 after a long illness. He was 83. 

The Mass for Prof. Murphy will take place at noon in Our Lady’s Parish, 573 Washington Street, Newton.

Prof. Murphy was a self-described “dogface” private who fought in Korea with the 7th Infantry Division during the last several months of the war. His experiences as a soldier would serve as an inspiration and basis for his writing, and he went on to publish war-themed novels including Quonsett, Night Watcher, The Mill, They Were Dreamers and The Green Box.

But Prof. Murphy not only wrote; he taught others how to write. His teaching career spanned more than five decades and included stints in South Boston, Hopkinton, Natick, Sandwich – he served as head of the high school’s English Department there – and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, where he established the school’s first drama program, as well as at Woods College, where he taught creative writing and Irish literature.

One of Prof. Murphy’s students was Marty Walsh, who graduated from Woods College in 2009 and four years later was elected mayor of Boston.

In 2010, the Woods College established a scholarship in Prof. Murphy’s name, in recognition of his making a difference in the lives of his students.

All the while, Prof. Murphy’s continued to write. His widely published essay “Freedom Village,” an eyewitness account of a prisoner exchange at the end of the Korean War, was submitted by a reader to an anthology of veterans’ stories, Chicken Soup for the Veteran’s Soul, that was released in 2001.

“Freedom Village” was chosen as the lead essay for the anthology. “The editor told me it was a toss-up between me and John McCain,” Prof. Murphy told the Chronicle. 

A few months before his death, Prof. Murphy completed a World War I-era novel titled After They’ve Seen Paree.

A Newton, Mass., native, Prof. Murphy first attended the BC Evening College as a part-time student, but was drafted into the Army in 1952, and shipped out to Korea in the spring of 1953. He took part in the second battle of Pork Chop Hill, on July 4, a little more than three weeks before a truce was signed to stop the fighting.

Prof. Murphy is survived by his wife, Margaret; their children Nina, Joanna Swanson, Ted – who now teaches his creative writing class at the Woods College – Sarah, Courtney and Seton; and two grandchildren. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Scholarship Association of Falmouth, P.O. Box 369, Falmouth, Mass., 02541 with the notation Jim and Margaret Murphy Scholarship.

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Robert Carovillano, Physics

Robert Carovillano, an internationally recognized professor of physics who chaired the department for 13 years during his distinguished 44-year career at Boston College, died on Oct. 15. He was 83.

After earning master’s and doctoral degrees in theoretical physics from Indiana University, Dr. Carovillano – the son of Italian immigrants and first in his family to attend college – joined the Physics Department in 1959 as an assistant professor, and was promoted to professor in 1966; he served as department chair from 1969-82, and retired from BC in 2003. A prodigious scholar, he published numerous articles and books on the magnetosphere, ionosphere, solar wind, and related topics.

Dr. Carovillano pursued numerous professional activities and service in the field beyond BC.  He was a member or chair of numerous advisory committees for the National Academy of Sciences, National Center for Atmospheric Research, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF); he also was an officer and trustee of the Universities Space Research Association, where he twice served as chairman of the Council of Institutions, and an officer of the American Geophysical Union.

Dr. Carovillano was principal investigator on many research grants and contracts funded by the NSF, NASA, the Office of Naval Research, and the Air Force, and was a visiting senior scientist at NASA Headquarters in the Office of Space Science, where he was responsible for the supervision of several programs and research initiatives in space physics. He served on NASA’s Space Science Advisory Committee and reviewed numerous space shuttle and satellite projects.

A native of Newark, NJ, Dr. Carovillano overcame infantile paralysis from polio and was able to enjoy games of stickball in the streets of Newark, and later became an avid squash and tennis player. He was a resident of Needham while at BC, and later moved to Delray Beach, Fla.

He was pre-deceased by his wife, Mary Ann, to whom he was married for more than 30 years. His is survived by his daughters Deborah and Rebecca; his son David; sisters Rae and Geraldine; and eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.  

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John Mahoney, English

Rattigan Professor of English Emeritus John L. Mahoney Sr. ’50, MA'52, H'03, a beloved faculty member, renowned classroom teacher and literary giant at Boston College for more than half a century, died early today after a brief illness. He was 87. [See below for information regarding visiting hours and services.]

The son of Irish immigrants who was raised in a Somerville triple-decker, Dr. Mahoney was a nationally acclaimed Romantics scholar and authority on the works of poet William Wordsworth. He imparted his love and vast knowledge of poetry and literature to thousands of Boston College undergraduates during 47 years of full-time, uninterrupted teaching, earning Massachusetts Teacher of the Year honors in 1989 from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

John Mahoney

John L. Mahoney Sr. (Gary Wayne Gilbert)

"Boston College has been a great part of my life," said Dr. Mahoney in a 2012 interview with the Boston College Chronicle, reflecting on his experiences as a student. “I have always been in love with books and learning, but I wanted my learning to be free and open, capable of revision. I began to get that at Boston College, with teachers who weren’t asking classes to memorize and be ready to repeat, but who would say, 'What’s your opinion of this?' – a real dialogue taking place.”

Dr. Mahoney used dialogue as a central component of his own teaching. “I always saw teaching as a matter of intuition plus preparation,” he told the Chronicle in 2002. “I was a teacher who was always prepared but I was not a formal lecturer. I blended lecture with class discussion in search of an exhilarating presentation.”  

Dr. Mahoney was also known as a prolific writer, editor and essayist, authoring six books and more than 100 published works. His books, including Wordsworth and the Critics: The Development of a Critical Reputation; Seeing Into the Life of Things: Essays on Literature and Religion; William Wordsworth: A Poetic Life; and The Whole Internal Universe: Imitation and the New Defense of Poetry in British Criticism and Aesthetics, 1660-1830, were used in universities throughout the world.

Boston College Provost and Dean of Faculties David Quigley praised Dr. Mahoney for his teaching gifts and the unique contribution he made as one of the University’s most respected and admired professors. “John Mahoney came to Boston College as an undergraduate in the late 1940s and with the exception of a few years across the Charles River for doctoral work at Harvard in the early 1950s, he has been an essential and beloved member of our intellectual community for nearly three-quarters of a century. He has left his mark on generations of our students and faculty colleagues, elevating the University with his commitment to the transcendent power of literature and the imagination. As we mourn the passing of this remarkable teacher-scholar, we celebrate all that he has meant to so many at Boston College over so many years.”

Added longtime colleague Mary Crane, who succeeded Dr. Mahoney as Rattigan Professor of English, “John Mahoney was at the center of the English Department at Boston College for many years. He was equally devoted to scholarship and teaching; both were a labor of love for him. He was one of those teachers who transform students’ lives, and many students stayed in touch with him over the years. He cherished every note, phone call, and visit that he received from former students. As chair of the English Department at Boston College in the 1960s, he initiated a series of hires that brought promising scholars to BC and moved the department to a new level of excellence.  As a colleague, he set an important example of generous and unstinting service to the department and the University.  John had a wide range of passionate interests, including not just poetry (his great love), but also theater, jazz, travel, and meteorology. He was always eager to discuss any of these topics and to share his enthusiasm for them with his colleagues and students.”  

Joseph Appleyard, SJ, who taught English with Dr. Mahoney early in his career, offered similar praise. “John was a good friend and mentor, a well-respected scholar of Romantic poetry, and one of the architects of the modern English Department's rise to prominence in the field of literary studies. But I suspect the achievement he would be most proud of, other than his long and happy marriage and his accomplished family, would be the generations of students he taught to love poetry."

A fervent believer in the value of higher education, Dr. Mahoney felt strongly that academia should not be insular or aloof. “We have to find ways of articulating what we do in the sciences, in literary criticism, in philosophy, in a language that is accessible to a society hungry for knowledge,” he told Boston College Magazine in 1994.

In 2003, Dr. Mahoney was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Boston College, to go along with his undergraduate and master’s degrees. He also held a doctorate from Harvard University.

The citation for his 2003 honorary degree read, in part: "Outstanding teacher, dedicated university citizen, and renowned Wordsworth authority, he has set a benchmark for faculty quality. His masterful teaching, prolific scholarship, fidelity to Catholic tradition, openness and warmth reflect the Jesuit heritage and unique institutional character he cherishes, breathing new life into classical notions of the humanities and liberal education."

Dr. Mahoney joined the English faculty at Boston College in 1955, serving as chairman from 1962-67 and again from 1969-70. In 1994 he was appointed as the inaugural Thomas F. Rattigan Professor of English. His last class as a full-time professor was chronicled by theBoston Globe in 2002, in an article that described him as “the favorite professor everyoneremembers.” He continued to teach on a part-time basis following his retirement and remained active in the BC community until this past year.

Dr. Mahoney was considered a mentor to dozens of present day academic luminaries who have made their mark at universities nationwide.

Former student Stephen Fix ’74, an 18th-century literature scholar and the Robert G. Scott Professor of English at Williams College, cited Dr. Mahoney as the key influence in his intellectual formation and his decision to pursue a career in academe. “John changed my life,” said Fix. “His example inspired me to want to become a scholar and, especially, a teacher. I’ve met other great teachers in my life, but none is John’s equal. He encouraged me and countless others to see that literature can help us discover our deepest human values and commitments.”  

A gifted classicist and linguist who spoke Latin, Greek and French, Dr. Mahoney also held a deep passion for jazz as well as theater, and is said to have introduced many of his students over the years to the joys of music and theatrical performances.

His numerous honors included the University's Alumni Award for Excellence and the St. Ignatius Medal from Boston College High School, awarded to the school’s most distinguished alumni.

He leaves his beloved wife of 58 years, Ann, three children: John Jr., Patricia and William, all graduates of Boston College, and five granddaughters: Alison Mahoney, Emma Mahoney, Emily O’Brien, Erin O’Brien and Gillian Mahoney. He is also survived by his sisters Margaret P. Mahoney of Lexington, and Mary Louise Hegarty, and her husband, Cornelius, of Belmont.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Professor Mahoney's memory to the Boston College Fund.

--Jack Dunn and Sean Smith, News & Public Affairs