The Washington College community is mourning the loss of Patrick McGrath, a sophomore from Columbia, PA, who died Friday, November 16, in his dormitory room in Kent House. He was 19. The cause of death is unknown at this time.
Patrick graduated in 2006 from Lancaster Catholic High School, where he was active in the swim program, in religious activities, and in various service organizations, particularly the Good Samaritan Program. Because Lancaster Catholic doesn't offer lacrosse, Pat played club lacrosse with Conestoga Valley. He also worked as a lifeguard at Hempfield Sports Complex.
"He was one of those kids that everyone really liked," recalls John Guilfoyle, his guidance counselor at Lancaster Catholic. "When he was applying to colleges, he had a number of very nice teacher recommendations. Everyone here is just devastated."
Guilfoyle says Pat ultimately chose Washington College because he was interested in history and liked the Chestertown area.
At Washington College, Pat focused his studies on business and accounting, and remained interested in sports, particularly club lacrosse, soccer and wakeboarding. He was a resident assistant in Kent House and served as an SGA senator. He also was involved in Safe Ride, a new student-run shuttle that operates on weekends.
During the school year, Pat worked at Play It Again, Sam, a popular coffee shop in Chestertown. He spent last summer working as a lacrosse specialist at Camp Canadensis in the Pocono Mountains, where he quickly won the respect and admiration of campers and fellow counselors alike.
"In a close-knit community such as ours," College President Baird Tipson remarked at a candlelight vigil on Sunday, "we are all touched by the tragic loss of Pat McGrath. To lose anyone so young is so difficult, but particularly so when we lose someone with such a big and good heart. Pat will continue to inspire us with his example of service and his selfless dedication to others."
His friends and classmates are posting messages on Pat's Facebook site and atobits.lancasteronline.com. Washington College is offering individual counseling (contact the Counseling Center at 410-778-7261), as well as resources for parents whose sons and daughters are struggling to cope with their grief.
Pat was the youngest of five children. His father, Marty McGrath, is an administrator at Franklin & Marshall College; his mother, Caroline, teaches at Our Lady of the Angels, a parochial school in Columbia. In addition to his parents, Pat is survived by two brothers, Brian and Kevin; and two sisters, Claire and Laura. His maternal grandfather, John W. Shenk, nephew Kieran Kramer and niece Sahara McGrath also survive.
Friends may call during a viewing scheduled for Wednesday, November 21, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Kraft Funeral Home, 519 Walnut Street in Columbia. A mass of Christian burial will be held at St. Peter's Catholic Church at 11 a.m. on Friday, November 23. The church is located at 121 Second Street in Columbia. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Our Lady of the Angels Catholic School, Lancaster Catholic High School, or to the College's Washington Fund.
November 20, 2007