by Zach Tackett and Elizabeth DeLyser, Staff Writer & Copy Editor
On the afternoon of Sunday, November 21, Dr. John Serafin passed away suddenly in his home. His students and coworkers powerfully grieve his passing, sharing heartfelt memories with each other to stem their sorrow.
“[I was] stunned, deeply shocked,” said Dr. George H. Leiner, an associate professor of philosophy who was a close friend to Serafin. “Dr. Riddle called me to tell me, but there was a deep sense of sadness to see it confirmed in writing. One blinks and hopes the letter will change.”
“Dr. Serafin was such a helpful, kind, thoughtful, fair teacher. I was supposed to have him for Stats 2 next semester, too,” said Sarah Eidemiller, who spent most of Monday in tears. “It’s going to be really rough to not have him around. The psychology department is going to seem empty with his office door closed all the time.”
Serafin was hired by SVC in 1980 as part of a wave of hiring new, young professors from outside of Western Pennsylvania in an effort to broaden the school’s horizons.
“He helped bring a wider national perspective to the college,” said Leiner, “he was part of the contemporary Saint Vincent College.”
In a memorial mass held on November 22, students, teachers and administrators joined together to celebrate the live of a beloved professor.
During the mass, Fr. Vernon repeated a theme of life even in death, and continued with a personal anecdote, saying, “Through love, the dead come alive. John was short and succinct [like that]. He was brilliant, taking paragraphs and summing them up in two sentences.”
Dean of the School of Social Sciences, Communication, and Education Dr. Mary Beth Spore shared her own memories.
“He was the faculty council during a turbulent change. I was in awe of how he navigated the waters,” she said. “I was amazed by the respect he showed me; he was always available to council me. He afforded [respect] to me even when I did nothing to earn it. This is the mark of a good man deep down. I will always remember how he welcomed me. He will be missed.”
“I will miss him terribly, but he will never be far from me, nor the important and not always easy work we did together,” Leiner said, “He taught me much.”
“He will continue leaving his mark on this school – there is no doubt about that,” Eidemiller said, “it is impossible to replace the man. And I have been truly blessed to know him.”