Rev. George S. Mahan, S.J., 30-year Fairfield University executive, dies


Image: George MahanA Jesuit, whose warm personality and gift for remembering everyone he met made him a revered part of Fairfield University's early history, died on Sunday, Oct. 3, at Campion Health Center in Weston, Mass. The Rev. George Stirling Mahan, S.J. joined Fairfield College Preparatory School in 1950 as an assistant principal. In 1951, he was appointed assistant dean and director of admissions for Fairfield University and 10 years later became executive assistant to the president and started the first Alumni Fund. In 1972, he took on the job of director of development for Fairfield Prep.

Fr. Mahan served under four Fairfield University presidents: Fr. James Fitzgerald, S.J., Fr. William McInnes, S.J., Fr. Thomas Fitzgerald, S.J., and shortly with Fr. Aloysius Kelley, S.J. For ten years, he lived as a housemaster on corridor with the students. He was also responsible for bringing the New York Giants football teams to Fairfield's campus where they conducted pre-season training for eight years. When he retired from Fairfield in 1980, the Giants presented him with a watch inscribed "A Giant at Fairfield."

Frank Rice, Ph.D., professor emeritus of biology at Fairfield University, worked with Fr. Mahan for 19 years. "He was very effective in meeting people and dealing with people," Dr. Rice said. "He was very well-liked and very efficient in his work, especially in fundraising."

Fr. Mahan was active with the United Way, the American Red Cross, the Connecticut Commission for Higher Education and the Diocese of Bridgeport. In recognition of his service to Fairfield University, Fairfield Prep and the community, he was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters at the University's commencement in 1980. He left Fairfield in June of that year and went on to guide development at Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River, Mass. From there he served the Newbury Street Community in Boston and then went on to the Campion Center.

Fr. Mahan participated in archeological digs in Lebanon and Jordan in the 1930s. He was a co-author of "Teleilat Ghassul II" on excavations by the Dead Sea, published by the Pontifical Biblical Institute. Before joining the Fairfield community, he taught at St. Robert's Hall, Pomfret, Conn.; the University of Chicago; Boston College High School; and the School of St. Philip Neri near Boston.

A member of a family that included 28 priests and nuns, Fr. Mahan was born on Dec. 2, 1909 in Dorchester, Mass., and entered the Society of Jesus on Aug. 14, 1928. He earned a bachelor's and a master's degree in philosophy and a Ph.L. in Theology from Weston College in Weston, Mass. He was ordained in 1940 and went on to complete ascetical studies at St. Robert's Hall in Pomfret, Conn., and studied at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute.

In addition to his Jesuit brothers, Fr. Mahan is survived by a sister, Ms. Margaret Mahan. Condolences may be sent to her at Apt. 413, 151 Hallet Street, Dorchester, MA 02124-5445, or to Fr. Mahan's cousin, Fr. George Nolan, at Campion Center.

A wake will be held on Thursday, Oct. 7, from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and from 7 to 8 p.m. at Campion Center in Weston. A prayer service will be conducted at the Center at 4 p.m. The funeral will take place the following day, Friday, Oct. 8, at 10 a.m., also at Campion Center.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 4, 2004

Vol. 37, No. 74