This obituary was originally posted on Fordham University’s website on March 12, 2016, and has been edited for style and clarity. The original version can be viewed here.
By Joanna Mercuri
Fordham University mourns the loss of Fr. Gerard C. Reedy, SJ, a longtime member of the Fordham community and former president of the College of the Holy Cross. Fr. Reedy died on March 11, at age 76.
“The Society of Jesus lost a great man today,” said Fr. Joseph McShane, SJ, president of Fordham. “I could say many things about Fr. Reedy—that he was a pioneer in Jesuit higher education, that he was a distinguished scholar, that he was a gifted teacher—all true. But he was also a gentleman through and through, a warm and generous mentor, and a friend. We will all miss him greatly.”
The son of Charles and Margaret (Deasy) Reedy, Fr. Reedy was born in Bellerose, N.Y., on Oct. 25, 1939. He entered the Jesuit novitiate at Bellarmine College in 1957, shortly after graduating from Regis High School. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Fordham in 1963 and 1965, respectively; a licentiate in philosophy and a bachelor of divinity from Woodstock College in 1964 and 1970, respectively; and a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1973.
Throughout his career, Fr. Reedy was first and foremost a teacher. He began his career teaching Latin, English, and religion at Brooklyn Prep, when he was still a Jesuit scholastic. He joined the English faculty at Fordham in 1973.
“He was especially committed to students. They were the focus of his ministry, and they loved him,” said Susan Ray, PhD, professor emerita of German, who worked closely with Fr. Reedy when he was appointed dean of Fordham College at Rose Hill in 1986. “He was a very warm, considerate person. He showed kindness to everybody.”
He served as dean for six years and, in 1992, was appointed vice president for academic affairs. The following year, he earned a Bene Merenti medal for 20 years of service to Fordham.
In 1994, Fr. Reedy became the 30th president of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. Under his leadership, the college transformed its educational technology infrastructure, earning it national recognition as one of the “most wired campuses in the nation.”
Of critical importance to Fr. Reedy was increasing the diversity of the college’s administration, faculty, and student body, a goal he realized in just four years as president. Students of color comprised 12% of class of 2002—an increase from 8% for the class prior—and the number of people of color in the faculty nearly doubled.
Still, his primary concern lay with the students, said his colleagues. In addition to living in the residence halls at Holy Cross (as he had done at Fordham), Fr. Reedy met regularly with student leaders, dined with students, and taught courses, even during his presidency.
He collaborated with Fr. Brian Linnane, SJ, assistant professor of religious studies, to team-teach “Moral Weakness,” an honors program seminar that encouraged students to think innovatively about ethical and theological issues.
“Gerry Reedy is a gifted, generous, and enthusiastic teacher. I was amazed at the amount of time he was able to give to the students and to preparation,” Fr. Linnane said in a Holy Cross Magazine article commemorating Fr. Reedy’s presidency.
“The success of this course was particularly gratifying for Gerry because it reflected what I take to be one of the central goals of his presidency—that the educational experience at Holy Cross be one that is ever more intellectually rigorous and, at the same time, broadly Catholic.”
In 1999, Fr. Reedy returned to Fordham, this time as the Loyola Chair in Humanities at Spellman Hall. He became dean of the Marymount College of Fordham University in 2001, and saw the school through to its closure in 2007.
During the last decade of his life, Fr. Reedy continued writing scholarly articles, offered spiritual direction to the Fordham community, and taught honors program seminars to undergraduates.
“He was a man of faith, humor, compassion and concern,” said Kevin Munnelly, assistant vice president for academic budgets and logistics and a Fordham alumnus (FCRH ’83, GSAS ’85). “He was a serious scholar and a brilliant professor—and also our rugby chaplain.”
Students frequently kept in touch with him long after leaving Fordham, and Fr. Reedy celebrated more than one alumni wedding—including Munnelly’s.
“He was always accessible if you needed advice, whether spiritual, academic, or anything else,” Munnelly said. “He loved being a teacher.”
Fr. Reedy is survived by his sister, Eileen, and two nephews, Charles and Paul Divone.
A wake will be held Fri., March 18, from 3 to 5 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at the Fordham University Church on the Rose Hill Campus, Bronx N.Y., 10458.
Fr. Reedy’s funeral will take place Sat., March 19, at 10 a.m., also in the Fordham University Church. Burial will follow at the Jesuit Cemetery in Auriesville, N.Y.