Brendan McGrath, whom many faculty members remember as the man who found them a place to live, died Oct. 7 while scuba diving near Gloucester. The cause of death was a heart attack. McGrath was 40.
McGrath was hired in 1996 as faculty real estate services manager in Harvard Planning and Real Estate. In this capacity, he was in charge of finding housing for new faculty. Gratitude for McGrath’s helpfulness seems to have been universal. Typical are the words of Peter Sacks, professor of English and American Literature and Language:
“Brendan had a very personable way of making immediate contact and of throwing himself into the task of finding housing. He had a cheerfulness and a brightness of demeanor and an obvious desire to help others that matters a lot when one is arriving at an institution without knowing anyone. He was just a lovely man.”
Timothy Cross, associate dean for Finance and Administration at the Divinity School, recalled McGrath’s “wonderfully supportive and positive attitude and his commitment to meeting the needs of faculty members during what is generally a very stressful time — i.e., making a move to Harvard. He was a terrific colleague who seemed always to keep our collective best interest foremost on hisagenda, and he will be missed by his many friends across the University.”
Kathy Spiegelman, Associate Vice President, Planning and Real Estate, said that “what made Brendan so special was that it didn’t matter whether people had a high or a low position, he always treated them with the same kindness and affection. He brought joy into people’s lives. He was a very positive presence.”
In June of this year, McGrath was promoted to assistant director for University and Commercial Real Estate Leasing and Acquisitions.
A native of Riverdale, N.Y., McGrath lived in the Boston area for many years. He was a graduate of Mount St. Michael Academy, Bronx, N.Y., and served in the U.S. Navy from 1977 to 1984. Before coming to Harvard he worked for real estate companies in Boston and Framingham. He was pursuing a degree at Harvard at the time of his death.
He is survived by his wife, Catherine Kenny McGrath; his two sons, Liam, 2 1/2, and Hugh, 13 months; his parents, Eleanor and Philip McGrath; two sisters and four brothers: Maura, Philip, Maurice, Paul, Betty Ann, and Matthew; and many nieces and nephews.
A funeral mass will be held today at 10am. at St. Thomas More Church, Braintree. Contributions may be made to The Liam and Hugh McGrath Fund, c/o Harvard University Employee Credit Union, Holyoke Center, 1350 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138.