John F. Reardon, 80, of Warminster, a longtime accounting professor at La Salle University whose friendly, open manner helped recruit students for the school and then made them feel welcome during orientation sessions, died Friday, April 13, of an infection at Arden Courts of Warminster. Dr. Reardon was known to all as “Jack.” A 1959 La Salle graduate, he was a professor of accounting from 1962 until retiring in 2002.
Fresh out of the Navy in the spring of 1962, Dr. Reardon encountered one of his former professors, who offered him a teaching post in the college’s accounting department. (La Salle College became a university in 1984.)
According to the Catholic Standard and Times, Dr. Reardon thought: “Well, I’ll try this for a year,” but went on to teach for the next 40 years at the university.
In 1969, he won the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. He chaired the accounting department from 1991 to 2000. He also won numerous awards for his contributions to the college and the accounting profession.
What was less well-known was Dr. Reardon’s efforts on behalf of would-be students. He and a colleague, John J. Rooney, wrote a book called Preparing for College. The guide was issued in 2009 by Ferguson Publishing Co. It gave students and their families practical advice on how to match their strengths and goals with the right educational institution.
He went way beyond just giving written advice on college, though. For 20 years ending in the mid-2000s, he toured the region giving informal talks about college life to high school pupils as they sat in their classrooms. He never pushed La Salle’s name, but was so likable that students instantly wanted to go there, his family said.
“Once he got into a classroom, that’s where he could shine, because it was like teaching,” said his wife, Cathy. “I think he was responsible for many, many students going to La Salle.”
For many years, he taught the most difficult courses, including Introductory Financial Accounting to freshmen and Advanced Accounting to seniors, said Paul R. Brazina, former dean and assistant professor of La Salle’s accounting department.
“For the freshmen, the challenge was, make the material exciting and engaging to many who did not see a career in the subject matter,” Brazina said. “The seniors, on the other hand, were about to enter the accounting profession and needed state-of-the-art knowledge and tools to launch their careers.
“Jack Reardon easily engaged students at both ends of the spectrum and was known as the consummate professor.”
Born in Philadelphia, Dr. Reardon grew up in West Oak Lane. He graduated from La Salle College High School in 1955. As a senior, he played third base for the school’s city championship team.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from La Salle, a master of business degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1961, and a doctorate in education in 1972 from Temple University.
Dr. Reardon’s teaching philosophy was simple. “It’s the search for the answer, not rote memorization, that’s important,” he told the Catholic Standard in April 2002. “My mission is to teach students how to learn. Teaching is a joint effort, a boat with two oars. If both the student and I are rowing, then we’ll get somewhere. But if it’s just me, we’re only going around in circles.”
La Salle University’s Class of 1987 dedicated its yearbook to Dr. Reardon, who at that time had put in 25 years of teaching there. The students wrote: “He continues to receive outstanding evaluations from his students, and his sections are the first to close at registration.”
When he retired in May 2002, Dr. Reardon stated what he felt to be La Salle’s mission as an inner-city school. Its duty was “to educate the poor and underserved in our area,” according to the Catholic Standard.
A year after he retired, La Salle dedicated the Jack Reardon Learning Center classroom in his honor.
Dr. Reardon enjoyed following the Phillies and attended every Sunday home game with his daughter, Kristen. His favorites books were World War II histories or fiction.
He took up jogging in his 40s, and ran the 1982 and 1983 Philadelphia Marathon races in just over 3 hours and 30 minutes.
In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by a son, Jeff; a daughter, Tracey; four grandchildren, a sister, and nieces and nephews.
A service to celebrate the life of Dr. Reardon will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 12, at Founders’ Hall, 5698 N. Wister St., Philadelphia (located on La Salle University’s campus).
Memorial contributions may be made to a food bank of the donor’s choice.
This obituary, written by Bonnie L. Cook, originally appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer.