Irene D. Corwin, 92, was registrar, 'Mother Confessor' at Johns Hopkins

February 08, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Irene D. Corwin, who was registrar of the Johns Hopkins University for 44 years, died Friday of cancer at her Lauraville home. She was 92.

After teaching school in Ellicott City for a year, she joined Hopkins as assistant registrar in 1924. She was named registrar in 1946 and retired in 1968.

"She admitted students, often betting on their potential rather than their records," Ross Jones, vice president and secretary of Hopkins, said in a statement. "She guided them through their course selections. She interceded for them when their grades slipped beyond an acceptable level, encouraging the faculty to give them a second chance. And she did all of this as a woman in what was entirely a man's environment. . . .

"It is almost impossible to convey the breadth of influence that Irene D. Corwin had on the university community, especially at Homewood during her long tenure. She was one of three or four people who managed the university. She touched the lives of thousands of Hopkins students, formally as registrar, but perhaps more importantly as a counselor and Mother Confessor."

She was born on Hamburg Street, not far from where her ancestors settled on Hull Street after arriving at Locust Point from Germany in the mid-19th century.

"She liked to tell stories about what South Baltimore was like in those days," said her nephew, Michael Dougherty of Baltimore. "She loved telling stories about taking the trolley from Baltimore to her teaching job in Ellicott City.

"Being born in 1901, she always thought of herself as a darling of the century and noted the changes in the city," Mr. Dougherty said. "She remembered peaceful snowy nights when it was so quiet that except for the sound of passing streetcars, one could almost hear the snowflakes fall."

The former Irene Davis was a 1919 graduate of Western High School and earned her bachelor's degree from Goucher College in 1923. She did postgraduate work at Hopkins, where she met Alsoph H. Corwin, a chemistry professor. They married in 1938.

She was a member for many years of Eutaw Methodist Church and, later, Bethesda United Methodist Church on Harford Road.

Services were set for 1 p.m. today at the Leonard J. Ruck Funeral Home, 5305 Harford Road, with interment in Loudon Park Cemetery.

In addition to her husband and nephew, survivors include two foster sisters, Virginia Bayly of Emerald Isle, N.C., and Myra Trenchard of Baltimore; and a niece, Katharine Dougherty of Millersville.

Memorial donations may be made to Bethesda United Methodist Church, 6300 Harford Road, Baltimore 21214.

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