Patrick J. McCarthy

Date of Birth

August 3, 1922

Date of Death

May 20, 2019

City of Death

Santa Barbara

Patrick J. McCarthy, Professor Emeritus of English at UC Santa Barbara and a witty, learned, much beloved member of the English faculty, died at age 96, on May 20, 2019. Patrick retired in 1991 after 25 years at UCSB.

Born, to Irish immigrant parents, Patrick was always a New Yorker, attending Jesuit Regis High School in Manhattan, where he starred in basketball, then Fordham University, from which he graduated as valedictorian in 1943. He served as a lieutenant in the U.S Army in the latter years of World War II. During the occupation of Japan, Patrick was assigned to teach English literature to US troops in the Army Education Program. There he found his life’s work. Following the time in Japan and Army service, he returned to New York and enrolled in the graduate program at Columbia University, concentrating on Victorian literature. There he met Helen Lasek, also a Victorianist, whom he would marry in Tucson, Arizona, in 1951. He taught at the University of Arizona, though his early career was beset by health difficulties. He completed his doctoral dissertation in 1960 with Emery Neff at Columbia, and published Matthew Arnold and the Three Classes, a biographical and social history study of Arnold, in 1964. He and Helen enjoyed a year’s sojourn in Rome in 1962-63.

Patrick and Helen moved to Santa Barbara from Tucson in 1966 when he joined the English department of UCSB. He served briefly as chair in 1970-71, but was again beset by health problems. The McCarthys enjoyed frequent European travel and research stays in London over the next twenty years. He published dozens of articles on Romantic and Victorian literature and mentored a generation of graduate students in that period. After his retirement in 1991 Patrick served as a volunteer at Catholic Charities, then became president of its Advisory Board in 1997.

In retirement Patrick founded and moderated Dickns-L, an online email discussion list which served amateur and professional readers of Charles Dickens around the world. His erudition and knowledge of Dickens delighted the thousands of Dickensians who subscribed to the list-serve.

Helen retired from Santa Barbara City College in 1993, and the two of them continued their travels abroad over the next twenty years, enjoying friendships in England as well as in New York and Tucson. Though his health was always uncertain, Patrick maintained a vigorous schedule of exercise and meeting with friends and colleagues. His 67-year marriage to Helen concluded with her death in February, 2018.

He continued to live at their Rincon Vista home until illness brought him to Mission Terrace last year. His delight in poetry continued until the last week of his life as friends visited and read to him.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 1, followed by internment in Calvary Cemetery. Memorial gifts may be made to Catholic Relief Services, P.O. Box 17090, Baltimore, MD 21203-7090, to Commonweal Endowment Fund, 475 Riverside Dr., Room 405, New York, NY 10115, or to the local Catholic Charities, 609 East Haley, Santa Barbara, CA 93103.


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