Obituary: Francis E. Rourke, 82, Longtime Poli Sci
By Glenn Small
When Francis E. Rourke retired from Johns Hopkins in
1993 after nearly 40 years of teaching, his colleagues
arranged for a special send-off for the political science professor, who was
an expert on the presidency. They hired a brass band,
draped the Garrett Room in red, white and blue bunting and
had campaign buttons made that said "Thank Frank."
The celebration, which included the playing of Hail to
the Chief, was an illustration of how beloved and admired
Rourke was on campus. Rourke, who trained hundreds of
graduate and undergraduate students over the years and was
known for his approachability, kindness and sense of humor,
died last week after a long illness. He was 82.
"I never saw him get angry the whole time I knew him,"
said Matt Crenson, a political science professor who met
Rourke in the early 1960s, when Crenson was a 17-year-old
sophomore at Johns Hopkins. "Never shouted, never raised
his voice. But when the department needed a leader, Frank
was who we turned to."
Rourke, who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees
from Yale and his doctorate from the University of
Minnesota, studied and taught courses on the presidency,
bureaucracy and public administration. He published
numerous books and articles and, over the years, was
frequently quoted and interviewed by the news media.
Crenson, who met Rourke on the No. 3 bus and would
talk politics with him on the way to campus, said Rourke
had a way of diffusing tense situations with his often
self-deprecating sense of humor and that he took special
pride in nurturing young scholars, including Crenson, who
said Rourke was the reason he went into political
"There are Frank loyalists all over the country,"
Crenson said. "There was something about him that made
people do their best work under his supervision."
A private service was held for Rourke last week. He is
survived by his wife, Lillian; two daughters, Katherine
Young of Mount Pleasant, S.C., and Ann Becker of Wayland,
Mass.; a son, Stephen Rourke of Baltimore; a brother,
Joseph Rourke of Tarpon Springs, Fla.; eight grandchildren
and one great-grandchild.
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