William W. Pheil Sr., a Boys’ Latin School educator, coach and theater enthusiast, dies

William W. Pheil Sr. was active in the Baltimore area theater scene.

William W. “Bill” Pheil Sr., a retired Boys’ Latin School mathematics department teacher and sports coach who performed in local theater companies, died of pneumonia Oct. 29 at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. The Lutherville resident was 81.

Born in St. Petersburg, Florida, he was the son of Harvey Pheil, a journalist, and Winifred Walker, a homemaker. He was a 1959 graduate of Northeast High School and earned a bachelor’s degree at Sewanee, the University of the South. He later received a master’s degree at what is now known as Towson University.


As a student, he was a swimmer and runner.

Mr. Pheil moved to Baltimore in the early 1960s and taught mathematics at Gilman School before joining the faculty of Boys’ Latin School in 1975. He was chair of its math department and upper school registrar. He was also a cross county coach.


As part of his duties, he taught Pascal computer coding.

Mac Kennedy, an administrator at the school, said: “Bill Pheil was an ‘old school’ teacher. He was sometimes tough, but he loved his students. He was so incredibly dedicated and devoted to them. Bill seemed to always be there on campus.

“I estimate he taught and coached over 1,500 students in the 38 years he was here at BL and the outpouring of appreciation and respect from his former students since the news of his death has been amazing,” said Mr. Kennedy.

Mr. Kennedy said that students praised Mr. Pheil for helping them through difficult aspects of mathematics and bolstered their confidence to master the subject.

His daughter, Jennifer Pheil Otero, said her father loved the theater and attended the old Morris A. Mechanic Theatre and had tickets to the Hippodrome.

“He was a performer and was always involved,” his daughter said.

He was a past board president of Cockpit In Court Summer Theatre at Community College of Baltimore County.

“He was always willing to take a role in the theater,” said F. Scott Black, retired dean of the CCBC’s College of Liberal Arts and theater director. “He was a real team player, whether it would be selling refreshments or greeting people. He also had a pretty good voice and was a cast member of our production of ‘The Music Man.’”


Mr. Black also said, “He was a gentle man. He never tried to impose his will on anyone.”

He was active in the Phoenix Festival Theater, Friendship Players, Suburban Players and Comic Opera Company of Baltimore. He was a supernumerary at the old Baltimore Opera Company.

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His son, William Walker Pheil Jr., said: “He was a little bit shy and liked to get involved in the community as a social outlet. When he got involved, he was trying to help other people.”

Mr. Pheil lived on Northampton Road and belonged to the Towson JCs.

He was a Baltimore Colts and Ravens season ticket holder, and was a competitive swimmer and gymnast.

Mr. Pheil sang in the choir of the Church of the Holy Comforter and belonged to Encore, an over-55 singing group. He planned to perform at the Kennedy Center later this year.


Survivors include a son, William Walker Pheil Jr. of El Cajon, California; and a daughter, Jennifer Pheil Otero of Timonium. His wife of nearly 45 years, Barbara McGinnis Pheil, who sang soprano and was a retired preschool teacher, died in 2015.

A celebration of Mr. Pheil’s life will be held at 1 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Church of the Holy Comforter at 130 W. Seminary Ave. in Lutherville.