Playa del Rey resident John F. Mahoney, an educator and writer, died Monday, April 10th. He was 76.
Memorial services will be officiated by Father Randall Roche and held at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 22nd, in the Loyola Marymount University Huesman Chapel, 1 LMU Drive, Westchester.
Mahoney was born in Detroit, Michigan, on May 19th, 1929.
He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from the University of Detroit before getting a doctorate in comparative literature in 1956 from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
He later became a professor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Detroit.
Mahoney’s career in academia also included administrative or teaching positions at the University of North Carolina, Duke University and Duquesne University, as well as the position of dean of Walden University campuses in Florida and California.
For several years, he was vice president of academic affairs at William Patterson College in New Jersey.
A desire for public service led him to work as a consultant for school systems in Illinois, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, and Saudi Arabia.
He was elected to the Imperial Beach City Council and appointed acting mayor. He was a member of the San Diego Association of Governments board of directors.
Mahoney was also a published author and poet. In the 1960s and 1970s, he wrote and edited more than 30 books.
His writings included fiction, drama and scholarly works and his interests ranged from medieval literature to pop culture.
He also worked as a journalist and newspaper editor, and was the founder and editor of the Imperial Beach Times a few years after he moved to California in 1978.
Recently, Mahoney co-wrote with his wife, Tania Wisbar, a novel about the post-World War II reunification of Germany, Last Cemetery in Berlin (Authorhouse, 2003).
In yet another line of work, Mahoney and Wisbar established service organizations for the developmentally disabled in California. From 1981 to 1994, Laddi Farm provided services in San Diego County and BELI Incorporated (the Behavior, Education and Learning Institute) in Alhambra and Monterey Park.
Mini-careers included singing in coffeehouses in the 1960s as an Irish tenor, singing backup to the Cantor in a Jewish temple in Detroit, and being a professional radio show anchor of Ask the Professor in Chicago.
Wisbar said Mahoney loved his Irish heritage and was a great storyteller and philosopher. He also had an appetite for robust dining and favored “a drop or two.”
“It all made for a life well-lived,” Wisbar said.
Mahoney is survived by his wife of 25 years, Tania Wisbar; sons Thomas and Brendan Mahoney; and daughter Mildred Miller.
Daughter Penelope Goergin passed away in 1999.
“All of John’s many other friends, colleagues, students, and family members will miss this man of unusual grace and good humor,” Wisbar said.