Holy Cross Remembers: John R. McCarthy

John R. “Bob” McCarthy, of Plymouth, Massachusetts, died in July 2016, at 87. He was a mathematics professor at the College for 30 years, from 1956 to 1986.

Professor McCarthy was born in 1929 in Woburn, Massachusetts, the youngest of three sons of the late Nora (Quinn) McCarthy and James (Ted) McCarthy. Professor McCarthy attended public schools in Medford and Arlington, Massachusetts, and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from Boston College. He also did graduate work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge on the GI Bill, and The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., on a grant from the National Science Foundation. Toward the end of the Korean War, he was drafted into the U. S. Army and served in the Chemical Corps as a mathematical assistant at the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland.

Daniel Dewey was one of McCarthy’s fellow professors in the math department. “I joined the Holy Cross mathematics department in September 1960, from the Midwest. Bob immediately became my guide to things Eastern and Jesuit,” says Dewey. “He knew the music and art scene in Boston; he knew the offices and people at Holy Cross who could advise on any question; and he knew how to be a friend.

“He was a valuable member of the department and the College, ready to serve on any committee. His insights were missed after he retired in 1986.”

An evaluation form from December 1973 noted Professor McCarthy’s strong relationships with his students:  “Professor McCarthy’s students overwhelmingly agreed that he is an outstanding teacher who excels in all areas. He is always available for help outside of class and is interested in and willing to help each student. In conclusion, Professor McCarthy is a great asset to the College and his courses are recommended highly by his students.”

Rev. Joseph E. Mullen, S.J., the assistant dean of the College in 1958, praised Professor McCarthy’s classroom demeanor, after observing one of McCarthy’s classes in November 1958. “Without doubt, he is an excellent teacher. His manner is quiet and relaxed. His exposition is very clear and definite. His students seem to follow him very closely and ask intelligent questions.”

Professor McCarthy is survived by four sisters-in-law; several nieces and nephews; and his devoted companion and life partner, Philip Izzo. Survivors also include members of the extended Izzo family. He was predeceased by his two brothers, and his wife of 21 years, Anna Marie MacDonnell.  ■

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