William E. Regan Jr.

Age 67: Businessman and Irish musician founded Data Networks Inc., a Baltimore-based company that provides computer systems to schools and government.

May 11, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,Sun reporter

William E. Regan Jr., founder and former president of Data Networks Inc., a Baltimore-based company that specializes in providing computer systems to schools, and local and state governments, died Thursday in his sleep at his home in Berlin. The former Timonium resident was 67.

Dr. Regan was born in Baltimore into an Irish-German family and was raised in Irvington. He was a 1958 graduate of Loyola High School, where he had been a champion basketball player.

After earning a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Delaware in 1962, he went to work as a sales representative for Texas Instruments, selling integrated circuitry that led to the development of the modern computer, family members said.

He earned a master's degree in business from Loyola College in 1972 and a doctorate in computer information systems in 1995 from Pacific Western University.

After leaving Texas Instruments, he joined J.R. Daniel & Co. in Towson, selling electronic components for the computer industry, until he established his own company, Teaching Computer Systems, in 1983. The company expanded and now provides computer hardware and services to local and state governments.

"He changed the name to Data Networks Inc. a year or so later," said a son, Patrick M. Regan of Timonium, who joined the company in 1989 and has been president since 2000.

"What made him a success was how he approached his business and relationships. He had integrity and honesty, and knew how to relate to people," the son said. "He created an environment of trust."

After retiring in 1999, Dr. Regan pursued philanthropic and musical interests.

The Rev. Joseph M. O'Mara, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn, was a classmate of Dr. Regan's at Loyola High School.

"Bill was a very charitable person, and we reconnected about 10 years ago. He asked me if he could help with the parish and our school," Father O'Mara said. "He not only donated computers but a great deal of his personal time. He was willing not only to give his money but also his time and talent."

Father O'Mara recalled how important Catholicism was to his friend's life.

"He went to Mass daily, and over in Berlin, once a week he'd go and help with the sisters who were working with those in need," he said.

Since the 1970s, Dr. Regan had spent summers in a house on 11th Street in Ocean City, where he looked forward to entertaining his children, their spouses, his grandchildren and family friends.

Proud of his Irish heritage, he visited Ireland at least 14 times, family members said, and was a member of the Jasper Greens, an Irish band that played at J. Patrick's in Locust Point. He played the tin whistle and was also a vocalist.

"He loved his family and he loved his Irish music. He had a tremendous love of life and his friends and of the things that really matter. He was a man with a huge and giving heart," said Gov. Martin O'Malley.

"When O'Malley's March played the boardwalk in Ocean City, Bill and his wife, June, would come down and sing along," Mr. O'Malley said. "When Bill's daughter Mary Beth got married, I waived my rule about not performing at weddings and sang an old Irish song, 'I'm a Sailor, You're First Mate.' "

Last year, Dr. Regan and his wife of 46 years, the former June Rose, a registered nurse, moved to Berlin.

Dr. Regan was a founding communicant of the Roman Catholic Community of St. Francis Xavier, 13717 Cuba Road, Hunt Valley, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Also surviving are another son, William E. Regan III of Ocean City; three daughters, Mary Beth Regan of Timonium, Amy R. Bateman of Towson and Erin D. Regan of Boston; and 15 grandchildren. His brother, Mark D. Regan, died in 2006.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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