In Memoriam: Brother Timothy Diener, FSC

Brother Timothy Diener, FSC, who had a central role in the ministries of the De La Salle Christian Brothers of the San Francisco District, died on November 30, 2004, at the age of 94. Brother Timothy attended Saint Mary's College of California for two years in the early 1930s before being assigned to teach chemistry at a Lasallian high school in the District. But, his work as cellar master for more than 50 years with the order's Mont La Salle winery had a direct impact on the success of the College. His skills and talents contributed significantly to the financial success of the winery, helping to underwrite Saint Mary's College, as well as provide needed resources for other ministries. Brother Matthew McDevitt wrote in The First Century of St Mary's College (1863-1963):

"After the end [of the Second World War], Mont La Salle Vineyards, a wholly owned corporation of the Christian Brothers, began to pump large sums into Saint Mary's. As Archbishop Mitty was the saviour of the college in the thirties so Mont La Salle Vineyards has been its financial angel in the forties, fifties and sixties. Annually the Vineyards made up a deficit of over $50,000."

Brother Timothy was born on November 28, 1910, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He attended Saint Mary's College High School and also Cathedral High School in Los Angeles. He entered the Novitiate in 1928, taking final vows in 1935. He taught chemistry at Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento and at Saint Mary's College High School. In 1935, he was asked to be cellar master, a position he held for more than five decades.

Brother Timothy received numerous academic and professional honors. In 1978, he was given an honorary degree of Doctor of Science, Honoris Causa, from Saint Mary's College, and the Alumni Association also named him Alumnus of the Year. Brother Timothy also was named a Doctor of Christian Service from Christian Brothers University, in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1990.

In 1977, Brother Timothy was named Wine Man of the Year by Wines and Vines magazine and received the Annual Merit Award from the American Society of Enologists. The Les Amis du Vin International Wine Society awarded him its Order of Merit and Chevalier, and in 1987, the California Vinters Association honored him as a Living Legend. In San Francisco, then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein declared a Brother Timothy Diener Day in 1982.

Brother Timothy was a member of the Brothers for 75 years, and in May 2003, a dinner was held in Napa to pay tribute to his contributions to the Napa Valley wine industry. The event also raised funds for the Lasallian Educational Fund, which provides support for children of poor families who attend Brothers' schools. Wine-business icons such as Ernest Gallo, Robert Mondavi, Peter Mondavi, and Joseph Phelps, and many other friends attended the gala event.

"I believe that winemaking is an art and a science," Brother Timothy said at the gathering. "I enjoyed those winery days and all the activities, as well as the lasting friendships made over a bottle of wine. But the sale of our wine and brandy business freed us from many distractions and allowed us Brothers to concentrate exclusively on our three-century-old role of teaching. I have always been a Brother first and a winemaker second. I thank you for honoring me with your presence here tonight and for your moral and financial support of the educational work of the Christian Brothers."

-- Joseph Wakelee-Lynch
Office of College Communications