Francis J. McGuire, who had been a Loyola University dean, administrator and professor of chemistry for more than three decades, died Monday from complications of dementia at Stella Maris Hospice. The Parkville resident was 86.
Dr. McGuire’s various roles at the college included dean of studies, director of the Center for Humanities, dean of enrollment management, Graduate Division, all the while continuing to teach chemistry.
“I always called him St. Francis because Frank was a saint and he kept the college going, and he was easy to work with,” said the Rev. James F. Salmon, S.J., a former longtime chemistry professor at Loyola who was president of Loyola Blakefield from 1973 to 1979. “Frank was quiet in general, but he was a doer.”
Dr. John A. Gray, a former professor of law and social responsibility at the Sellinger School of Business Management at Loyola, was a close friend and colleague of Dr. McGuire’s for more than 40 years.
“Loyola’s motto is ‘Strong Truths Well Lived,’ and Frank certainly personified that. He was always a gentleman and totally related to the college, and all of this was combined with a wry sense of humor,” said Dr. Gray, a Parkville resident.
“He was one of the most devoted individuals to Loyola that I have ever known. He was devoted to its students, faculty, administrators and the integrity of its academic programs, which he protected,” he said.
Dr. McGuire, who was born in Baltimore, was the son of Charles McGuire, a Bethlehem Steel Co. worker and Gilman School custodian, and his wife, Margaret McGuire, a nanny.
Dr. McGuire, who was known as Frank, was raised on Ensor Street, and was a 1950 graduate of Mount St. Joseph High School in Irvington.
While earning his undergraduate degree at what was then Loyola College, from which he was a cum laude graduate, Dr. McGuire developed an abiding interest in both chemistry and the college.
In 1952, he was the first student supervisor of the Aberdeen Project, where the college in conjunction with Aberdeen Proving Ground calculated the trajectories of various kinds of projectiles that APG was testing.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1954, he earned his master’s degree in 1956, and Ph.D., both in chemistry, in 1961 from the Johns Hopkins University.
Dr. McGuire worked as a research chemist for E. I. duPont de Nemours and Co. in Wilmington, Del., for several years before returning to Loyola in 1963 after he was recruited by the Rev. Vincent Beatty, S.J., who was president of the college and had been his mentor when he was an undergraduate, to join the chemistry department faculty.
In 1965, he was named head of the department, and two years later, was appointed dean of studies at the college by the Very Rev. Joseph A. Sellinger Jr., S.J., who was then president of Loyola.
“Dr. McGuire’s appointment marks the first time in Loyola’s 115-year history that a layman has held the office of dean of studies, one of the top positions at the school,” reported The Baltimore Sun in 1967.
“Among his peers he was judged a quiet and thoughtful man of independent views and of integrity,” wrote Nicholas Varga in his book, “Baltimore’s Loyola, Loyola’s Baltimore: 1851-1986.”
“After graduating from Hopkins and working for du Pont, Frank came back to Loyola and stayed, where he left his imprint on its students, faculty and administrators,” Dr. Gray said.
“Students related to him very well and I never heard any of therm make any negative comments about him because they knew he was devoted to their academic well-being,” Dr. Gray said.
Father Salmon had been recruited to join the Loyola faculty by Dr. McGuire.
“He hired me in 1967 and that’s when I joined the chemistry department. I also started a program more than 30 years ago at Loyola called Cosmos and Creation, which is about how faith and science relate,” Father Salmon said.
“It was ecumenical and students from various backgrounds took the course that was taught only by Ph.D.s from all over,” he said. “And when I was away on other Jesuit assignments, Frank taught the course.”
Dr. McGuire was an advocate of Loyola’s core curriculum, which he had experienced as an undergraduate.
“It is designed to develop abilities to think, reason and communicate, to expose students to ideas mankind has found profitable, and to serve as a base for life-long learning.” he told The Sun in a 1979 interview.
“At a school like ours, we encourage thinking about the deeper values of life,” he said in a subsequent 1986 interview with The Sun. “That requires abstract thinking, the ability to be rational, even when you’re feeling emotionally turbulent. Most of the important decisions you can’t make on instinct alone.”
Vast changes occurred during Dr. McGuire’s tenure. Loyola transitioned from a local college to a regional one, from a commuter to a residential school, and one that was co-ed.
Not all of Dr. McGuire’s work was academic. When inclement weather arrived, it was his decision alone based on safety to either keep school open or shuttered, which happened rarely, even though the entire East Coast might be shut down.
His son, Daniel McGuire of West Towson, said his father once appeared in a cartoon in the Loyola Greyhound, the student newspaper, in a King-Kong-like pose hanging from the steeple, with an accompanying caption vowing that he would not close school until the snow reached the top of the steeple.
When his two children, who attended Loyola, tried to pump their father about whether school was open or closed on a bad weather day, “his response was we could listen to WBAL Radio just like everyone else,” his son said.
“Frank was dean of Loyola College for so long that people thought his first name was Dean,” Tom Scheye, professor of English and special adviser to the president for strategy and planning, told the Loyola News in an article announcing Dr. McGuire’s death.
It was said that Dr. McGuire’s idea of a holiday “was to come to work in a sports shirt.”
In 1985, he was awarded the Carroll Medal for being a distinguished alumnus, and in 1997 was presented the President’s Medal for his unfailing dedication and devotion to Loyola.
Dr. McGuire and his wife, the former Mary Sue Plunkett, whom he married in 1963, lived on St. Andrews Way in the Glendale neighborhood of Baltimore County. In 2010, they moved to Oak Crest Village in Parkville, where he and Dr. Gray founded a Loyola alumni club.
Mrs. McGuire, who had been a teacher at Immaculate Conception parochial school in Towson, died in 2011.
Dr. McGuire remained a familiar figure on the Loyola campus as he attended lectures, reunions, and meetings of the John Early Society and Golden Greyhound events.
He was an active communicant of Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church and served for many years on its parish council.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Saturday at the church, 8501 Loch Raven Blvd., Baynesville.