Genevieve S. "Gen" Rafferty, a longtime Loyola University Maryland administrative assistant who became something of a campus legend during her nearly four decade career, died July 11 from vascular disease at her Towson home. She was 86.
"During the eight years I was chair of the department she was truly my right hand," said Dr. Carol Nivin Ambromaitis, a professor at Loyola since 1962.
"She knew everyone at the college. She knew the faculty and the students," Dr. Abromaitis said. "She loved them and they loved her, and we depended on Gen."
"She was quick-witted and very little went over her head. She knew where the bodies were buried and about future issues," she said. "She knew about the past and the future but very much lived in the present," she said.
The daughter of Ignace James Baginski, a Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. worker, and Leonilla S. McLellan Baginski, a bank teller, the former Genevieve Susanna Baginski was born in Baltimore and raised in Parkville. She was a 1948 graduate of Towson High School.
While working at the Stebbins-Anderson Co. in Towson, she met and fell in love with Maurice Joseph Rafferty, who worked for Bendix Radio in Towson.
The couple married in 1950, and later moved to a home on Radcliffe Road in Towson. Mr. Rafferty died in 1970.
In the late 1960s, Mrs. Rafferty returned to work as a Kelly Girl, and her first assignment in 1968 was as a temporary assistant in the Loyola's philosophy department.
She then moved to the English department on a part-time basis, where she was eventually hired, and became a college institution, who was know by both faculty and students as "Grandma-in-Residence."
"Gen came as a secretary in those days and made the transition to administrative assistant," Dr. Abromaitis said.
"As far as she's concerned, the English Department is a home, and she is its housekeeper. The college professors and students that make up the department are a family, and she is the stay-at-home mom," wrote Nick Brown, a Loyola student who worked alongside Mrs. Rafferty, in an article in The Greyhound, the college newspaper, at the time of her 2007 retirement.
"Gen is one of the last people on campus to embody the old-school approach. As secretary, she believes her responsibilities stretch further than merely providing professors with class readings," he wrote.
Classical music drifted out of her office from a radio that was perpetually tuned to WBJC. She kept ample supplies of candy which she dispensed from bowls for faculty and students who happened to drop by.
Mrs. Rafferty's office had plants that her work-study student, Mr. Brown, had to water, and when it came to Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other notable holiday, he was pressed into service to put up cardboard decorations from her vast stash that she had stored away.
"Whatever the holiday, Gen is prepared," he wrote.
"We celebrated fall with Halloween and Thanksgiving, winter with Christmas and spring with Easter," Dr. Abromaitis said. "Without infantilizing it, it gave students a sense of home."
Mrs. Rafferty was also a ubiquitous campus presence.
"She went to everything on campus whether it was a play, concert or art show. She also had coordinated the programs and publicity."
Tim Sablik, a Loyola student and Greyhound staff writer, also wrote a reminiscence at the time of her retirement.
"After nearly 39 years at Loyola College, Gen Rafferty, administrative assistant to the English Department, has seen many changes. She has seen students go from coats and ties to casual dress," he wrote. "She has seen building rise and fall on campus, and she's seen the computer replace the typewriter as the word processor of choice."
Impervious to this technological change, Mrs. Rafferty waged a successful one-woman campaign against college administrators and deans to keep her typewriter.
"The always want to take it away from me, and I say, 'over my dead body,'" she told Mr. Sablik.
"In Gen's world, the pressures of modern college, both academic and social, do not seem so daunting," Mr. Brown wrote.
"Hanging out with Gen, I realize that happiness doesn't require gaudy success — fame, riches. Gen has her music. She has her candy. She has her memories. She has her humility. She has her family. And those things have made her happy," he wrote.
Mrs. Rafferty was an avid reader and gardener. She liked traveling and had visited Europe, Hawaii and New Zealand.
With her crinkled smile, rapier wit and strong opinions, she liked sipping wine occasionally with friends at Ryan's Daughter in Belvedere Square, all the while filling the air with entertaining stories.
Mrs. Rafferty was also a duckpin bowler.
"She was still bowling up until a couple of months ago at Timonium Fair Lanes," said a son, Stephen P. Rafferty of Baltimore.
Mrs. Rafferty was a communicant of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Towson.
Plans for a memorial service are incomplete.
Mrs. Rafferty is also survived by another son, James F. Rafferty of Halethorpe; and three grandchildren.