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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University June 27, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 38
Obituary: Francis E. Rourke, 82, Longtime Poli Sci Professor


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 science.

"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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