Memorial Held for Former Instructional Services VP

Isiah Reyes

A “Celebration of Life” memorial was held in the auditorium for anyone who wanted to show their respect and admiration for Chris McCarthy on Oct. 29.

McCarthy, 56, was the former executive vice president of instructional services at GCC and had been president of Napa Valley Community College since 2002.

Former colleagues in attendance included: GCC interim president Dawn Lindsay; former president John Davitt; former trustee Robert Holmes; former secretary to McCarthy, Carolyn Payne; former vice president of instructional services, Steve White; English professors Bart Edelman, Steve Taylor, Hollie Stewart and Dennis Doyle.

Each shared their own accounts of their time shared with McCarthy.

“I worked for Chris [McCarthy] for his entire tenure at Glendale College, and I have so many fond memories of working with him,” Payne said.

Payne recalled once when she had to organize McCarthy’s files for an accreditation review. “I loved to read and type what he wrote because his writing style was so unique and eloquent,” she said. “[His] words flowed on paper.

“I remember telling him that he should write books so everyone could enjoy his writing,” Payne said. “He just smiled.”
In 1995, McCarthy applied for vice presidency of instructional services.

Holmes, who was on the board of trustees at the time, interviewed him for the job. He remembered that McCarthy wrote a lyrical, custom-made poem specifically for the interview.

“From that day to the last time I spoke to Chris, he was a pleasure,” Holmes said.
It’s ironic that McCarthy, who completed his doctorate in education on poets who teach in the classroom, never had a single poem of his own published during his lifetime.

Edelman will publish a few of McCarthy’s poems for the first time when the 2010 version of the GCC literary journal Eclipse is released, and the entire journal will be dedicated to McCarthy.

Edelman had a unique connection to McCarthy. They were both from New Jersey, they both enjoyed drinking wine and they both enjoyed reading and writing poetry, among other things. When Edelman went to a conference in Austin, Texas, he got to see McCarthy in a way others were not used to seeing him.

“You’ve never really witnessed life until you’ve seen McCarthy, cowboy hat on his head, feet dangling over a creek, eating barbecue and drinking at least two or three Lone Star beers, [because] that’s what he loved to do,” Edelman said.

Davitt, who appeared most moved by McCarthy’s passing, said, “He had compassion for people and he had a good sense of humor. Many of us were hopeful that he would have been my successor.

“[McCarthy] definitely was one of those people who we’ll always remember as somebody who brought not only just academics, but brought with him a humanistic view of life,” Davitt said.

White said he likes to deal with mourning through the use of humor.

“Chris was tall and handsome, he was gentle and warm, he was a poet, he was scholarly, a peacemaker, he was thoughtful, he was creative and he was charming,” White said. “I know what you’re all thinking, the similarities between me and Chris . [We’re] cut from the same cloth.

“We’ll all miss Chris very much,” White said. “He died way too young. He was a good man.”

Doyle played the harp in a prelude and later contributed to songs sung by Taylor and Stewart.

Stewart sang “Amazing Grace” and “Be Thou My Vision,” and Taylor sang “The Parting Glass.”
A reception was held in the auditorium lobby afterward with food and wine for all.

McCarthy is survived by his wife Carol, his parents John and Andrea McCarthy, and his brother Eric.