William D. Geoghegan, 92: Distinguished Bowdoin prof loved Brunswick's beauty

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BRUNSWICK — William Davidson Geoghegan, 92, died April 25 at Midcoast Senior Health Center, after a long illness.

He was born July 16, 1922, in Wilmington, Delaware, to Presley Downs and Mildred Davidson. Growing up in Delaware City, Delaware, he was also close to his grandmother, Emma Cleaver Davidson, and his aunt, Bernice Davidson Abrams, who played a large part in his upbringing.

Geoghegan majored in philosophy at Yale University, from which he graduated magna cum laude and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He then attended Harvard Divinity School for a year. After earning a bachelor of divinity degree, magna cum lade, from Drew Theological Seminary in 1945, he was ordained a Methodist minister.

In 1946, he married Sarah Elizabeth “Betty” Phelps. She died in 2013.

Geoghegan served briefly as a parish minister in Delaware, and then enrolled in a doctoral program administered by Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University. He received his Ph.D. in 1950.

He held an academic post and chaplaincy at the University of Rochester, and in 1954 joined the faculty of Bowdoin College.

At Bowdoin, he oversaw the chapel program and helped develop the Department of Religion, teaching biblical studies and philosophy. Many Bowdoin students admired his challenging, thought-provoking and entertaining classes. Geoghegan also was a passionate supporter of Bowdoin athletics, especially hockey and football.

In 1980 he founded the Bowdoin College Jung Seminar, and in 1990 he co-founded the Bowdoin-Brunswick C.G. Jung Center for Studies in Analytical Psychology. In 1981 he received the college’s Alumni Award for Faculty and Staff, and in 1994 he was named a professor of religion emeritus.

Outside of his acadmic career, Geoghegan enjoyed spending the summers with his wife and four children at Lake Wentworth in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. In middle age, he took up walking, eventually covering 16 miles a day. He came to appreciate more and more the natural beauty of Brunswick. One of his proudest achievements was to receive an award from the town of Brunswick for his support of waste recycling.

Besides his wife, Georghegan was predeceased by his son, William D. Geoghegan II, and his brother, Joseph H. Geoghegan.

He is survived by three children: Grace Geoghegan Wilson and husband, the Rev. Thomas Wilson, of Elizabeth City, North Carolina; Andrew Phelps Geoghegan and wife, Gloria Pinza, of Cape Elizabeth; and the Rev. Emily Bernice Geoghegan and partner, the Rev. Leanne Tigert, of Concord, New Hampshire. He is also survived by his daughter-in-law, Abbie Weld Brown, of Brunswick; his sister-in-law, Imogene Bragg Geoghegan, of Wilmington, Delaware; two nephews; a niece; and nine grandchildren, Alfred Wilson, Emily Wilson, Frank Wilson, Kate Geoghegan, Joseph Geoghegan, Rachel Umberger, Sarah Umberger, Caroline Geoghegan and Will Geoghegan.

A memorial service was held May 9 at First Parish Church in Brunswick.

Memorial contributions may be directed to the William D. Geoghegan Scholarship Fund at Bowdoin College, Development Office, 4100 College Station, Brunswick, ME 04011; or to First Parish Church, 9 Cleaveland St., Brunswick, ME 04011.

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