In Memoriam: Brother O. DeSales Perez, FSC

Brother O. DeSales Perez, FSC, professor of modern languages and collegiate seminar at Saint Mary's College of California, in Moraga, died on Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2003. He was 73.

Brother DeSales was born in El Paso, Texas on March 5, 1930. He attended Cathedral High School, a De La Salle Christian Brothers institution in El Paso, and entered the Brothers' community in 1948.

Brother DeSales spent much of his career as a Brother teaching at Saint Mary's College. For seventeen years, he was the director of the Collegiate Seminar program from 1977 to 1995, broadening the range of faculty who taught in the program, adding seminar electives on Multicultural Thought and World Traditions, and reforming administrative processes. Brother DeSales was an admired and beloved member of the College community, who was known for his love of art, literature, hospitality, and, especially, for his dedication to his students.

In winter 1996, he was named the first recipient of the Brother O. DeSales Perez FSC Award for Distinguished Faculty in Collegiate Seminar. Brother Mel Anderson, FSC, who was president of Saint Mary's College at the time, said Brother DeSales was an "excitingly effervescent teacher, loved by his students and peers, a collector of art and artifacts, books and music, a devotee of the opera and symphony, a man of culture and refinement, and an imaginative culinary artist."

Professor Theodora Carlile, who succeeded Brother DeSales as director of the Collegiate Seminar program, said: "All who knew DeSales Perez admired him for his many special talents and qualities: for his eye for art or rescued treasure, his talent in cooking and love of hospitality, his knowledge of literature, poetry, and philosophy. Yet these were nothing in comparison to DeSales' years of dedication and innumerable contributions to Saint Mary's and especially to the Collegiate Seminar Program. But to say even this falls rather short of the mark. DeSales was dedicated and he was good at what he did as a teacher and as a director of seminar because to be so was what he most loved, that from which he most took pleasure.

"DeSales had a contagious enthusiasm for the academic community, for the liberal arts as a living tradition, as it has existed across time and space and as it exists here and now on Saint Mary's campus. Because he loved and appreciated people -- students, former students, fellow teachers, prospective students, parents, friends of the college, and, of course, staff -- with remarkable insight and intuition, his was a spirit which illuminated for each a unique place in that wide community of his vision."

In 2001, at a celebration of his thirty-fifth anniversary as a teacher at Saint Mary's College, Brother DeSales was given a citation that recognized him for "fostering in students a love for literature and a passion for the study of other cultures."

Brother DeSales earned a B.A. from Saint Mary's, an M.A. from Middlebury College in Vermont in 1967, and a Ph.D. from the University of Madrid, Spain, also in 1967.

The Mass of the Resurrection for Brother DeSales Perez will take place at Saint Mary's College of California, in Moraga, on Tuesday night, Oct. 7, 2003 in the Saint Mary's College Chapel. All are invited to attend. Burial, for family members and the Brothers only, will take place at Mont La Salle in Napa on Oct. 8, 2003.

-- by Joseph Wakelee-Lynch
College Communications