Rudolph Masciantonio, 75, of Center City, former director of foreign language education for the Philadelphia School District, died of heart disease Thursday, Sept. 22, at his home.

Dr. Masciantonio was found lying facedown in his indoor swimming pool about 9 p.m. by a neighbor who checked on him at the home at 20th and Lombard Streets, after noticing his cat outside and an accumulation of mail against his door, police said. Medics pronounced him dead at 10:50 p.m.

Jeff Moran, spokesman for the city Health Department, which includes the medical examiner, said the cause of death was arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease and the manner - or general category - was natural.

Starting in 1963, Dr. Masciantonio worked his way up from a teacher of Latin, Spanish, French, and social studies to department head for foreign languages in the city's public schools.

In between, he served as curriculum specialist for foreign languages. An expert in the Greek and Latin classics, he often was asked to coordinate interdisciplinary projects in the humanities. He retired in 1994.

Born in Philadelphia, he was the son of Rudolph and Mildred Baldino Masciantonio.

He earned a bachelor's degree maxima cum laude - with very great honor - from La Salle College in 1961, a master of arts in classical language from the University of Pennsylvania in 1966, and a doctorate in education from Temple University in 1978.

He contributed articles to professional journals and was the author of Build Your English Word Power With Latin Numbers (Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, 1997) and Star Trek With Latin (American Classical League, 1980).

Dr. Masciantonio was a member of various professional groups dedicated to advancement of teaching foreign languages and to cultivation of the humanities.

Starting in 1972, he acquired four properties in Center City, which he converted into 21 apartments. He served as property manager and landlord for the properties until his death.

On a website dedicated to the business venture, he said the rental properties were located "in a lovely old part of Philadelphia on Spruce St., Pine St., and 20th St."

He was a member and board member of HAPCO Homeowners Association, a local organization for landlords and property managers. In June 2004 he was elected as its president, he posted on the website.

His hobbies were reading, swimming, hiking, and classical music.

A sister, Marlene M.E. Christensen, died in 2005. Dr. Masciantonio posted a tribute to her in Latin at the time.

No information was available about funeral services.

bcook@phillynews.com

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Staff writer Jason Nark contributed to this article.