A Community Builder

Brother ClarenceA light went out on this campus when movie enthusiast Brother Clarence Schenk, FSC, retired faculty member of the Communication Department and a beloved member of the Saint Mary’s community, died Friday, Aug. 21, at age 83.

Fondly remembered as the College’s unofficial film historian, Brother Clarence ’54 owned 300 to 400 films, which he shared with students and the community in the nine-person movie theater he created. He offered a surround-sound audio system, a 25-foot digital projection screen, padded seats, and, of course, popcorn.

“He is remembered for the Brother Clarence Theater, where he enjoyed showing not only blockbuster films on the big screen, but films with a wide variety of educational and inspirational themes,” said Alemany Community Director Brother Michael Meister.

“Brother Clarence was a kind and considerate individual and exemplified how we are connected at Saint Mary’s,” said President James Donahue. “Through his love of film and sharing them in his theater, this joyful Brother helped build community on our campus in a very human and generous way.”

Born in Los Angeles in 1932, Brother Clarence attributed his love of film to nearby Hollywood. “What else was there to do in the 1940s and ’50s?” he said. “Our entertainment was going to the movie theaters.” He also was a movie theater usher as a freshman at Cathedral High School, a Christian Brothers school in downtown L.A. He joined the Christian Brothers in 1950.

In his 65 years as a Christian Brother, he taught in several of the Brothers’ California high schools, including De La Salle High School in Concord. Brother Michael, a former De La Salle principal, said Brother Clarence quickly installed closed-circuit TVs in every high school classroom.

At SMC, Brother Clarence helped establish a cable TV system, with a mobile production van and satellite dish. “In many ways, he was ahead of his time,” said Brother Michael, who recalled evenings pinging Brother Clarence over large modems and TRS-80s — a late 1970s computer system. “We were texting long before cellphones or Skype.”

The Saint Mary’s community will dearly miss Brother Clarence’s joyful presence.

—Michael McAlpin

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