Brother L. Raphael Patton, FSC, Retired Math and Computer Science teacher Integral Program

Brother Raphael was a prankster as a student at Saint Mary’s and has applied the same sharp wit and curious mind to his long teaching career, his interest in College history and a lifelong passion for trains.

Brother L. Raphael PattonThe year 2013 had dual significance for Brother Raphael Patton. It was Saint Mary’s sesquicentennial and the 50th reunion of his graduating class at SMC. The class of 1963 was known for its hijinks, and Brother Raphael, who had a double major in mathematics and physics, didn’t sit on the sidelines. “I was involved with the guys who did the great things, like letting a million crickets loose in the Santa Clara library and taking the cow up to the top floor—all that kind of stuff,” he recalls.

The mischief took an academic twist when they dressed the legs of a mannequin in Chinos and deck shoes and planted them in a garbage can painted with the words “The One," a reference to Greek philosopher Plotinus. “We took The One to all the basketball games, and then one day they forgot it and left One in the gym and I grabbed it and took it to the Brothers’ house.” What followed was a huge “furor” over who could have taken it. “‘Where’s The One? What happened? Santa Clara stole it.’ People went crazy.”

Documenting history is one of Brother Raphael’s passions. In his essay on Brother Agnon Francis, a faculty member from the late 1800s, he recalled him as “probably the best coach in the history of college baseball.” He has also written the history of Saint Mary’s College and its de facto founder, Joseph Alemany, and recalls the early days in Moraga. “There was no Moraga here; there was nothing. But there was a railroad, and it ran right to the front of the campus. If you lived in San Francisco and you could get to the Ferry Building for the 8 o’clock ferry, you came across to Oakland, you jumped the train in Emeryville and you made it here for the 9:10 class.”

Trains are a hobby for Brother Raphael, who says for years he wanted to be a railroad engineer. “It’s a little kid’s craziness,” he admits. It’s also the kind of thing you’d expect from a man who enjoys adventure and the romance of history.

Brother Raphael, now retired, taught in the Mathematics Department for 31 years, taught astronomy and was a longtime tutor in the Integral Program. Over the years he has held an inspiring list of positions at the College, including serving as chair of the Mathematics Department. He directed the Integral Program and has served on the board of trustees. He also was a resident director and is considered the unofficial historian of the College. Deeply devoted to student well-being and to education, he once memorably hit his head while giving a tour of the catacombs to a group of freshmen and continued the tour with blood running down his face. Brother Raphael left the faculty with this advice: “Don’t complain,” noting that his old office is now the Galileo men’s bathroom.