Don Kaye McGhay, a guidance counselor and lacrosse coach in Baltimore County high schools, died Saturday of Alzheimer's disease at Northwest Medical Center. He was 61.
The longtime Baldwin resident had lived at the Sunrise Assisted Living facility in Pikesville for the last several years.
Mr. McGhay started his career at Golden Ring Junior High School in 1963 and moved to Parkville High School, where he was guidance counselor and coached the varsity lacrosse team.
In 1972, when Loch Raven High opened, Mr. McGhay became head of the guidance department and varsity lacrosse coach.
From 1988 until 1992, when he retired because of failing health, he headed the guidance department at the old Carver Vocational High School in Towson.
Mr. McGhay was named Lacrosse Coach of the Year for Baltimore County in 1971, 1975 and 1977 and was Metro Lacrosse Coach of the Year in 1975. He was inducted into the Towson State Athletic Hall of Fame in 1975.
"People are still asking me about Don McGhay," said Albert J. Sgro, former principal at Parkville and Loch Raven high schools.
"What he had was a great love for the young men and women he dealt with, and he had a real need to encourage them to do the best they could, to go to college and get a good, solid education. And the kids knew they could trust him.
Mr. Sgro added, "He didn't rush home after school. He stayed around to talk to students and parents. He'd even wait until the evening if he had to in order to speak to a parent. And when he developed our lacrosse program, there was no extra remuneration. It was strictly volunteer in those days. He coached because he just enjoyed it."
Mr. McGhay "had a genuine sense of caring for kids, and he took time with their problems," said Hugh Carey, a former Loch Raven High mathematics teacher and junior varsity lacrosse coach.
"He was a terrific coach who had the ability to make kids believe in themselves," Mr. Carey said. "He was their friend, and they would do anything for him."
Jimmy Darcangelo, former All-American lacrosse player and owner of LAX World in Towson, shared Mr. McGhay's passions for dove shooting and lacrosse.
"He was a good-natured guy who could get the most out of the kids," Mr. Darcangelo said. "He was a hard-working, committed guy who did a great job on the field."
Ed Speno lives in Timonium and has two sons who played for Mr. McGhay.
"His gift as a coach was the ability to communicate the techniques of the game and bring out the best in his players," said Mr. Speno, who coached at Dulaney High School in the mid-1980s. "He was not a hard-driver. He was a very positive person and a great motivator who allowed the kids to develop."
Born at Fort Riley, Kan., the son of a career Army officer, Mr. McGhay graduated from high school in 1955 in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and served in the Air Force from 1955 to 1959.
He earned a bachelor's degree in history from then-Towson State College in 1963 and a master's degree in counseling from Loyola College in 1969.
"He was always a helper," said his wife of 36 years, the former Ellen Dugan, also an educator.
"If you were broken down on the side of the road, he was the guy who stopped and tried to help you," she said.
Mr. McGhay was a communicant of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, 13305 Long Green Pike, Hydes, where a memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow.
He also is survived by a son, Christopher Thomas McGhay of Baltimore; a daughter, Brigette Cosgrove of Cumberland; and a grandson.