Edward McFall, Temple University adjunct professor and lifetime journalist, died on August 18 following a courageous bout with cancer. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses within the Department of Journalism, Public Relations and Advertising as an adjunct professor. McFall has held classes almost every semester since 1970 at both Center City and Main campuses.
McFall continued to teach through his illness, but had to withdraw from teaching several courses in the past few years due to his depleting health.
“That’s how I knew it was bad,” said Temple University Professor Bill Alnor. “He wanted to teach until the very end.”
Alnor, who has written books along with being a reporter, knew McFall as both an undergraduate student in the 1970s and then again as a colleague more recently in the 1990s.
“He’s the one who made me want to be reporter. I wanted to be a writer, not a news reporter,” Alnor said.
Alnor recalls one example when, as an undergraduate student, the class was having trouble with an assignment.
“He gave us this difficult story to write and one student said, ‘I’d love to see how you’d write it’; He wrote it for us the next day,” Alnor said.
McFall taught one or two classes each semester for the past 30 years, including Writing for the Media and Public Affairs Reporting.
“He never needed the money,” Alnor said. “He always loved to teach. Teaching wasn’t his job, but his passion.”
McFall took pride in seeing his students succeed, and hoped his efforts played a role in their achievements.
“He was on the top of the list to get a copy of every new book I wrote because I felt he was personally responsible for my success,” Alnor said.
Professor Tom Eveslage attended the funeral service at the Ridley Park Presbyterian Church in Ridley Park, Delaware County.
“He never had complaints from his students. Students were very pleased with what he brought to the classroom,” said Eveslage, who was Department Chair from 1986-1990.
McFall himself was a student at Temple, earning his undergraduate degree in journalism in 1954.
One current journalism student wrote following his death, “McFall is one that I will always remember. It was not just his teaching style which was superb, or his friendliness that endeared me to him, but there was something else. When he spoke you knew there was wisdom behind his words, and (he) practiced what he preached.”
McFall, of Ridley Park, had a long, successful career in journalism. He worked as the Philadelphia bureau chief of United Press International. He was first employed at UPI as a copyboy while still a college student and worked his way up as a stringer, reporter and manager of the Philadelphia bureau and state news editor in Pittsburgh.
“He was not an academic type,” Alnor said. “He had a common sense approach, real world experience, and took interest in every student and knew every student’s name.”
He also formerly taught at Rowan University (formerly Glassboro State) in New Jersey while working in public relations at Penn State’s Delaware County campus. McFall was director of the University of Pennsylvania news bureau from 1979 until 1989. He then did public relations for Penn State’s Delco campus until 1991.
McFall served a two-year stint in the Navy manning the typewriter aboard the aircraft carrier USS Siboney from 1954 until 1956.
“I learned every time I talked to him,” Eveslage said. “He always had marvelous insight. I think the students picked up on that. We all respected that.”
McFall was a sports fan who enjoyed covering local Phillies, Flyers and Eagles games for UPI.
Associate Professor and Department Chair Karen M. Turner attended the memorial service for McFall in Ridley Park.
“There were so many people there, they had funeral home staff directing traffic. The parking lot was full,” Turner said.
“He was a very popular professor. He remained that way to the end,” Alnor said.
At the time of his death, McFall was operating his own vending company, Pop Coin Vending, which he started in 1993. The company serviced about 25 vending machines at various locations.
McFall is survived by his wife of almost 38 years, Edith Freedman McFall, a fellow UPI reporter. He is also survived by his daughters, Mary McFall Hopper of Ridley Park, Elizabeth McFall of Seattle, Wash.; son, Raymond McFall of Ridley Park; sister, Jean Grun of Warminster; four grandchildren; two nieces.
A scholarship has been set up in the department in cooperation with McFall’s family in his memory. The first one will be given out in April at the annual department awards ceremony. As of last week, over one thousand dollars has been raised.
Contributions may be sent to the Edward J. McFall Memorial Scholarship Fund, Temple University, JPRA Department, 2020 N. 13th St., Philadelphia, PA 19122, ATTN: Yvonne Fairfax.