Ronald J. Biglin, a former business professor and dean of graduate programs at what is now Loyola University Maryland who owned a winery and a distribution company, died Monday at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. The Lutherville resident was 81.
"Ron always got outstanding ratings from the students. He taught in the executive program and marketing, plus he had lots of professional experience. For instance, he knew what it meant to do a payroll," said Charles R. "Bob" Margenthaler, who was dean of the business school at Loyola from 1985 to 1992.
"He was your typical marketing person. He knew how to market and he knew how to market a program," said Dr. Margenthaler.
The son of a tool maker and a caterer, Ronald Joseph Biglin was born in East Orange, N.J., and raised in Bloomfield, N.J., where he graduated from Bloomfield High School in 1949.
From 1949 to 1952, Dr. Biglin served in the Army as a musician playing the drums. He was discharged with the rank of corporal.
"He was successful because he had a brilliant mind and was determined to succeed and provide for his nine children. He was very strong-willed," said his wife of 62 years and high school sweetheart, the former Muriel Warnasch.
"We already had two children before he ever started college, but he said that he'd get through it and did. He went all the way through to a Ph.D.," said Mrs. Biglin.
In 1961, Dr. Biglin earned a bachelor's degree in business and psychology from what is now Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, N.J., and a master's degree in business in 1964, also from Fairleigh Dickinson. He earned his Ph.D. in marketing and accounting in 1971 from Georgetown University.
Dr. Biglin did additional business studies and management and marketing at New York University and had taught at Rider College and Fairleigh Dickinson. He also worked at General Electric and Hoover companies before coming to Loyola in 1966.
He was an assistant professor in accounting, business administration and economics when in the late 1960s, with three other academicians and administrators, he helped design the Master in Business Administration program. In 1969, he was named its director.
Loyola was the first college in Baltimore to offer an MBA.
In 1969, he was also appointed chairman of the department of accounting and business administration, and two years later, was named chairman of the Loyola Department of Business Administration in the Sellinger School of Business.
Dr. Biglin also initiated the Executive MBA Program in 1973, Executive Seminar Series, Small Business Administration Institute and the Columbia Campus at the Columbia Center.
James B. O'Hara, who later served as executive director of the Executive MBA Program, was a close friend.
"Loyola was first in the U.S. to have a program like that where executives came to school on weekends. These were executives who were in their 40s and had forgotten what it was like to be in college, studying and taking tests," recalled Mr. O'Hara.
"[Dr.] Biglin also taught in the program. He was an absolutely brilliant teacher and had lots of ideas in the classroom. He hated technical terms and jargon. He was a real genius," he said.
"He had rapport with the students who were older. He knew how to put them at ease. He also knew they feared tests, so he gave them tests every week for a time until they got used to them," said Mr. O'Hara. "He knew that the only way in dealing with fear was to walk through it."
Dr. Margenthaler described him as being "easygoing and not overbearing."
"Ron was easy to talk to. The students knew that. He could accept their ideas and he would take them under consideration," he said.
In addition to his work at Loyola, Dr. Biglin served as a consultant for such companies as Bendix Field Engineering, Commercial Credit Corp., Kee Inc., Optic Graphics Inc., Therapy Staff Services Inc., Gencom Inc. and Baltimore Window Factory.
After retiring from Loyola in 1988, Dr. Biglin remained active in business. Some of the businesses he owned and operated included Quarry Hills IV, a land development company; Professional Review, a strategy consulting firm; Estate Trust Inc., life insurance buyers; and CDC China Inc., a manufacturing company.
Dr. Biglin and his wife had a second home in Seminole, Fla., where since 1999 they owned and operated Murielle Winery Inc. in Clearwater, Fla., and Biglin Bros. Distribution Co., a Largo, Fla., company that delivers wine.
"He was still working at the end of his life. He was an entrepreneur. He did things as they came along," said Mrs. Biglin, who had worked alongside her husband at Estate Trust Inc. as office manager.
She said that her husband had taught her a valuable lesson when it came to business.
"You have to work something through by yourself. And you have to do it right," said Mrs. Biglin.
Dr. Biglin enjoyed crossword puzzles.
Dr. Biglin was a communicant of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Towson.
Plans for a memorial service are incomplete.
In addition to his wife, Dr. Biglin is survived by five sons, Brian J. Biglin of Lutherville, Robert J. Biglin of White Hall, Michael L. Biglin, Timothy J. Biglin and John P. Biglin, all of Seminole, Fla.; two daughters, Nancy S. Grove of Seminole, Fla., and Joan M. Robinson of St. Petersburg, Fla.; three brothers, Joe Biglin of Hunt Valley, Ed Biglin of Cedar Grove, N.J., and Jack Biglin of Bethlehem, Pa.; three sisters, Claire Babbitt of New York, Mary Jane Biglin of Bloomfield, N.J., and Janet Dimmick of New Jersey; and 17 grandchildren. Two daughters predeceased him: Patricia Ann Biglin died in 1996 and Carolyn J. Obrecht died in 2012.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun