Joseph T. McGrellis Jr., 67, of Williamstown, a science and math professor at Atlantic Cape Community College for more than 40 years known for his ability to connect with students, died Sunday, May 23, at Cooper University Hospital in Camden of severe head trauma from an accident.
Shortly after receiving a master's degree in microbiology from Rutgers University in 1968, Dr. McGrellis landed a teaching position at Atlantic Cape Community College. He loved the interaction with students and knew right away he would be a college professor the rest of his career.
"He enjoyed getting individuals . . . to step up, and he enjoyed when they got it," his son Sean said.
And he was not a man to hide his emotions, said those who knew him.
"He was always happy, bouncing down the hallway," said former student Michael McCollum, who teaches an online biology class that Dr. McGrellis started.
Even after 41 years at the front of microbiology, math, other science classes, Dr. McGrellis looked forward to teaching, his son said. He already had his schedule for the summer and fall semesters.
Since his death - he was walking to the post office near his home May 12 when a car hit him - the McGrellis family has received dozens of letters from former students saying how inspiring he was.
Dr. McGrellis' classes were not easy, though, said the college's science and mathematics department chair, Godfrey Barlatt. He wanted his students, most of whom needed microbiology for a nursing degree, to succeed at school and then in their careers, so he set a high academic bar.
"He was not only an educator but an adviser," Barlatt said.
Dr. McGrellis chaired the science and math department for about three years but missed teaching, Barlatt said.
The three sabbaticals Dr. McGrellis took during his career were for educational purposes. During the first, he received his doctorate in microbiology from Rutgers. The other two were spent developing two biology courses, one of which was online.
Dr. McGrellis did everything for the course, from designing the curriculum to writing the lab book and then preparing the lab kits to be sent out.
His other passions included the Phillies, classic horror films, and musical theater, his son said.
Dr. McGrellis was born in Philadelphia and moved with his parents to National Park when he was 10. He graduated from Gloucester Catholic High School in 1961 and received his bachelor's degree in biology from the Drexel Institute of Technology in 1966.
After receiving his master's degree, he worked for a short period as a substitute teacher at Hamilton High School in Philadelphia.
In 1968, he married Patricia Matczak, whom he had met one summer when both were teenagers.
In addition to his wife and son Sean, Dr. McGrellis is survived by son Mick, daughter Brenda, and two grandchildren.
A visitation will be held from 9 to 9:45 a.m. Friday, May 28, at Our Lady of Peace Parish, 32 Carroll Ave., Williamstown, where a Funeral Mass will be said at 10. Burial will be in Woodbury Memorial Park.
Memorial donations may be made to the Atlantic Cape Foundation for the Joseph T. McGrellis Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, 341 Court House-South Dennis Rd., Cape May Court House, N.J. 08210.