Jan. 10, 1922 – Nov. 7, 2012
The Rev. Reginald A. Redlon, 15th president of St. Bonaventure University, died Wednesday at Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J. He was 90.
Father Redlon was St. Bonaventure’s president from 1967 to 1972, during one of the most turbulent times in American history.
“Reginald faced unimaginable internal and external challenges tied to the religious, political and social upheaval that characterized the late ’60s – the peace movement, the sexual revolution, and the call for freedom from cherished traditions and almost anything that seemed to be ‘expected’ by social convention,” said Brother F. Edward Coughlin, vice president for Franciscan Mission at St. Bonaventure and a 1970 alumnus.
“Circumstances demanded that he make choices that touched every aspect of academic and residential life at Bona’s,” Coughlin said. “A man of integrity and principle, Reginald made the hard choices that he believed were in the best interests of the university. He was admired by many and the majority of his critics respected him.”
Born Thomas Anthony Redlon in Portland, Maine, Father Redlon attended St. Mary’s Grammar School in Westbrook, Maine, and graduated from Westbrook High School in 1939. He attended St. Joseph’s Seminary in Callicoon, Sullivan County, from 1939 to 1943.
In 1943, he was received into the Order of Friars Minor of Holy Name Province at St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson, N.J. In 1944, he professed simple vows, and in 1947, he professed his final vows. He did philosophical studies at St. Stephen Friary in Croghan, Lewis County, and St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., and studied theology at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C.
After his ordination in 1949, Father Redlon served St. Bonaventure as an instructor of philosophy and prefect of discipline at Christ the King Seminary, which was located on campus at that time.
He furthered his studies in Paris and the University of Friedsburg, Switzerland, before earning a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Louvain in 1955.
Father Redlon was rector and superior at St. Francis College in New Hampshire from 1961 to 1967, at which time he was appointed president of St. Bonaventure.
Throughout his term as president, Father Redlon made several contributions to make St. Bonaventure what it is today.
He oversaw the creation of the Faculty Senate, along with increasing the number of faculty members with doctorates. During his five years as president, he was able to increase contributed funds and renovate several buildings.
Father Redlon also added lay members to the board of trustees, which up until that time had all been members of the order.
He took the time to completely revise the administrative handbook and began granting university sabbaticals.
Father Redlon also served as pastor at several parishes in New Jersey; as a trustee at Siena College; and as president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.
He retired in 2003 to St. Anthony Residence in Boston, before moving to Holy Name Friary in Ringwood in 2010.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11:30 a.m. Saturday in St. Anthony Church, 65 Bartholdi Ave., Butler, N.J.
– Jay Rey