Jeffrey A. Bishop

The Baltimore Sun

Jeffrey A. Bishop, a St. John's College official who helped enlarge the school's endowment and overhaul its fundraising, died of kidney cancer Saturday at his Arnold home. He was 59.

In nearly two decades at the Annapolis liberal arts college, Mr. Bishop became the architect of large capital campaigns that brought the school new dormitories and renovated buildings, including a library. He helped raise more than $140 million and set a goal of having the college's endowment reach $100 million -- which it did in 2006, up from $10 million when he started working in 1987.

"He was smitten by St. John's mission," said his wife of 23 years, Susan McDonough Bishop, a veterinarian.

Mr. Bishop, a native of Troy, N.Y., had been a bank examiner for the U.S. Treasury Department as a young man. He worked in fundraising at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he was also an economics graduate of the Wharton School. For a short period, he owned a West Philadelphia mom-and-pop grocery store called Sam's Place.

"He wanted a job where he could use his people skills," his wife said. "He had an incredible amount of energy."

Mr. Bishop then worked for the higher-education consulting firm of Snelling, Kolb and Kuhnle. Officials at St. John's retained his services, and on a visit to the college he became interested in its academic mission to teach the "most important books of the Western tradition."

Colleagues recalled that William Dyal, then president of the college, was impressed with Mr. Bishop's fundraising agenda and hired him to run the plan he had outlined.

"He was a person looking for a place where he could do some good and be effective," said college President Christopher B. Nelson. "He was a man who planned everything methodically. He was on campus before 7 in the morning and often remained into the evenings for fundraising events."

He recalled Mr. Bishop's "mischievous smile" and work habits. "Everybody knew he was planning everything around them, but he was having fun at it too," the college president said.

Friends said Mr. Bishop savored a challenge. In 1993, he and four colleagues from St. John's made a cross-country bicycle trip. In 22 days, they rode from Santa Fe, N.M., to Annapolis.

For the past five years, he served as vice president, coordinating the development efforts of the college's two campuses in Annapolis and Santa Fe.

Mr. Bishop loved to cook and enjoyed wine. In 2004, he and two partners bought a 7-acre vineyard in Maury in the Roussillon region of France; he visited it three times a year. He pruned the vines, weeded and fertilized. In the vineyard's best year, his grapes yielded 1,200 bottles.

"His idea of a really great evening would be to have a group of six around our dining room table," his wife said. "He loved complicated sauces."

With an eye toward bringing the school closer to the city of Annapolis, he set up advisory boards -- the Board of the Friends of St. John's College and the Mitchell Gallery Advisory Board. He helped bring well-known figures such as Arthur Ashe, David Gergen, Robert Bork and Sandra Day O'Connor to the campus for a Great Issues series of talks.

He underwent many years of treatment for cancer, first diagnosed in 1996.

In 1996, he was made an honorary alumnus of St. John's College.

Services are private.

In addition to his wife, survivors include two daughters, Lauren Campuzano Bishop of Philadelphia and March Bishop of Arnold; a sister, Cindi Macomber of Delmar, N.Y.; and three nieces and nephews.

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad