John Guy Cesare

John Guy Cesare ( )

John Guy Cesare Jr., a utility engineer who earned degrees in both the nuclear field and theology, served aboard Navy submarines in the Cold War and later volunteered for Baltimore's poor and homeless, died of cancer Jan. 8 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. The Roland Park resident was 64.

Born and raised in Vicksburg, Miss., he was a 1967 graduate of St. Aloysius High School and earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering degree and a master's in nuclear engineering from Mississippi State University.

After attending the Navy's Officer Candidate School, he was selected to go into nuclear submarine service. After an interview with Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, he served aboard the USS James Madison, a submarine armed with ballistic missiles.

"We patrolled submerged for 70-day periods near the end of the Cold War," Mr. Cesare wrote in a resume, adding that he served in the North Atlantic and near the Arctic Circle "to remain undetected by the Russian navy." He attained the rank of lieutenant.

He then joined Entergy and worked in commercial nuclear energy. A licensing engineer, he worked with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Mississippi Power and Light on the operation of its Grand Gulf Nuclear Station south of Vicksburg.

More than 25 years ago, Mr. Cesare became a volunteer at the Mississippi State Penitentiary. Within a few years, he considered entering the Roman Catholic priesthood. He moved to Baltimore, where he earned a theology degree as a seminarian at St. Mary's Seminary & University in Roland Park. But he changed his mind about becoming a priest. Until 1998 he also taught Hebrew and Christian scriptures, as well as physics, at Towson Catholic High School.

While in Baltimore, he volunteered at homeless shelters at Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church in downtown Baltimore and at St. Michael and All Angels Church in the Old Goucher community. He also distributed sandwiches to the downtown homeless in the Loaves and Fishes ministry.

"Guy was easygoing, but in a most profound way," said the Rev. Timothy Brown, a Jesuit priest and friend who teaches at Loyola University Maryland. "In all senses of the word, he loved many people. He had a diversity of friends and interests. He was charming and could a tell a story in the best tradition of the South."

In 1998, he returned to work on nuclear power plants and joined Enercon Services, an engineering consulting firm in Germantown. He was a senior licensing consultant.

"Guy played a prominent role in setting the groundwork for the revival of the nuclear power options in the 2000s," said Enercon's vice president, Bob Evans, who lives in western Howard County. "He had a wonderful, dry sense of humor and was never short of appreciation for the efforts of his colleagues."

Co-workers said Mr. Cesare was instrumental in preparing and gaining Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval for the decommissioning of the Maine Yankee nuclear power plant.

"He was a friend to everyone, willing to take on any challenge, and was a problem solver," said Mr. Evans.

Another colleague, Regina Borsh, a Richmond, Va., resident, recalled Mr. Cesare as "one of the best licensing engineers in the entire U.S. nuclear business. ... Everyone wanted to work with him. But it wasn't just because he was so knowledgeable and productive. It was also because he treated each person he met with the utmost respect and kindness."

She also said he was also a skilled advocate.

"He was great at presenting a compelling, cogent proposal," she said. "He was so charming, humorous and captivating. He was great at leading people to the right decisions at the right time."

Mr. Cesare enjoyed making Italian dishes and soups, although family members said he never followed a recipe. He also traveled, camped and sailed. An artist, he made detailed pen-and-ink drawings that he washed in colors. He also played the guitar for family and at church.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at noon Saturday at St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church, 740 N. Calvert St., where he was a member.

Survivors include his wife of 19 years, Sue Dexter Cesare; his parents, John Guy Cesare Sr. and Barbara Cesare, both of Vicksburg; a stepson, John Comly of Charlotte, N.C.; a stepdaughter, Audrey Kennedy of Baltimore; a brother, Charles David Cesare of Clarksdale, Miss; two sisters, Mary Cesare White, also of Vicksburg, and Carol Cesare Walker of Madison, Miss.; and six grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com