The Rev. Dr. Bob Hanrahan, a former volunteer at the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, died June 18. He was 76.
Hanrahan volunteered with the agency during its early days, at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1990s.
“Everyone just loved him,” said AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania executive director Ronda Goldfein.
Hanrahan lent his services to whatever tasks needed to be done in the office, and Goldfein said he took the initiative to keep everyone at the agency informed on the latest news on the epidemic.
“His big legacy is that he clipped every single story about AIDS from every newspaper anywhere and brought it to us,” she said. “It would be a headline that read ‘AIDS breaking out in Burma’ and he would have a clip about it. He was his own one-man, pre-Internet clipping service.”
A native of West Conshohocken, Hanrahan attended Conshohocken High School and Philadelphia College of Bible, and later earned a master’s degree from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctorate from Pittsburgh’s Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Throughout his career, Hanrahan served at congregations in Pittsburgh, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin, and spent 12 years before his retirement as the pastor of the New Britain Baptist Church in Bucks County.
He also served as deacon of Grace Baptist Church in Blue Bell, was the secretary and moderator of the board of the Philadelphia Baptist Association and sat on the Institution Review Board of Doylestown Hospital. Hanrahan was a volunteer chaplain at Doylestown Hospital and Neshaminy Manor.
During his time with AIDS Law Project, Goldfein said Hanrahan forged close relationships with the fellow volunteers, staffers and clients, despite their seeming differences.
“When I met him, it took me a little bit to realize he was clergy,” she said. “He worked with a lot of people in the office who were probably different from the folks he was used to seeing in his congregation, but that didn’t matter. He was incredibly kind, respectful and nonjudgmental. And on more than one occasion, he’d walk in when folks were having a risqué conversation, and he just rolled with it.”
Goldfein noted that when one of the agency’s volunteers was sick and dying, he made it clear that he wanted Hanrahan to preside over his funeral service.
“I thought that was really telling: That of all the people this guy knew and the clergy members he knew, he requested Bob to officiate. I think that’s a lovely tribute to Bob, that he developed such a connection with the people he worked with.”
Hanrahan is survived by his wife, Elaine; son David and daughter-in-law Maria; daughter Joan; brother John and sister-in-law Carole, sister Donna and brother-in-law Daniel;. brother Donald and four grandchildren.
A funeral service was celebrated June 22 at New Britain Baptist Church, and Hanrahan was buried at George Washington Memorial Park in Plymouth Meeting.
Memorial contributions can be made in Hanrahan’s name to the Alzheimer’s Association, 399 Market St., Suite 102, Philadelphia, PA 19106 or at www.alz.org.
Jen Colletta can be reached at [email protected].