Beloved Athletics Department Staffer Ray Tharan Dies

Posted October 22nd, 2009 at 5:11 am.

Memorial Serives

Memorial services for Ray Tharan will be held on Friday, Oct. 30. A Catholic funeral mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, 380 Highland Lane, Bryn Mawr, Pa. (directions are on the parish Web site). The mass will be followed by a Quaker meeting in his memory at 11 a.m. on the Bryn Mawr campus, in Thomas Great Hall (directions on the Bryn Mawr College Web site). Light refreshments will be served after the Quaker Meeting in Thomas Great Hall.

Gifts in Tharan’s memory may be made to the Athletics and Physical Education Department at Bryn Mawr College and forwarded to Resources Office, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, Pa. 19010

Assistant Director of Athletics Ray Tharan, who for more than 25 years inspired Bryn Mawr students to expand their definitions of the possible, died last week.

Described by one alumna as “kind, hilarious, and a serious motivator,” Tharan is remembered by generations of students for his weight-training sessions, his Mick Jagger impression, and especially for his unswerving support and enthusiasm for Bryn Mawr students’ athletic endeavors at every level.

Tharan attended Temple University on a basketball scholarship and played for the Owls from 1970 to 1973; he was on Temple’s baseball team as well. Before coming to Bryn Mawr in 1983, Tharan worked at Philadelphia University, formerly known as Philadelphia Textile, where he assisted legendary basketball coach Herb McGee. He also coached baseball and soccer for the Rams.

At Bryn Mawr, Tharan was head coach for basketball, cross-country and soccer before taking an administrative role as director of the fitness center. During his years as the soccer coach, Tharan posted the second-best won-loss record in Bryn Mawr soccer history.

In 1990, the Philadelphia Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women named Tharan Coach of the Year, and the Bryn Mawr Athletic Association named its annual “Ray” award for enthusiasm and team spirit after him.


Tharan with the Bryn Mawr soccer team in 1990

Tharan “helped countless members of the Bryn Mawr community to achieve their fitness goals, prepare for competition, and avoid or recover from injury,” said President Jane McAuliffe in an e-mail last Friday. “Ray prepared all our athletic facilities for competition, and then stayed to cheer on our athletes at virtually every intercollegiate game and match. He will be sorely missed.”

“Ray’s kindness, his thoughtfulness and his love and appreciation for Bryn Mawr were evident in everything he did,” said Director of Athletics and Physical Education Kathleen Tierney. “He was always available and approachable to students, and he helped them achieve goals they never thought they could achieve. He always helped them find their own strengths as people and athletes, to work past imaginary barriers that they had set for themselves.”

“I don’t know when Ray began to believe that making young women physically stronger was important work. But believe it he did,” wrote the Class of 2000’s Elsa Partan. “He made me believe it, too.” Partan’s tribute to Tharan was posted in a Facebook group created by Bryn Mawr Track and Field and Cross-Country Coach Dan Talbot to honor Tharan.

Arrangements for a memorial gathering and gifts in Tharan’s memory have not yet been finalized; the College will circulate information as it becomes available.

One Response to “Beloved Athletics Department Staffer Ray Tharan Dies”

  1. April Fitness Month Dedicated to Ray Tharan | Inside Bryn Mawr Says:

    […] that this year’s annual April Fitness Month will be dedicated to longtime staff member Ray Tharan, who died in 2009 after 26 years of service to the College. On Friday, April 1, the dedication will […]