Kevin Bearese Memorial Kevin Bearese (RIP 4/3/18)

Kevin passed on April 3, 2018. He had been struggling with bladder cancer for approximately a year. He hosted a reunion of our class at his beautiful home in Hagerstown Maryland, and was hoping to make it a tradition until cancer took him. I (Colin) was fortunate enough to be able to visit with him a day or two before he passed on.

Kevin's Memorial Service
It was a beautiful ceremony, held in the dome he worked so hard to build. The class was well represented with five attendees - Colin, Dennis, Mike, Joe and Charles. Kevin leaves behind a beautiful family and a lot of beautiful memories.

Comments from the Memorial Service
Kevin entered the Venard at the age of 13/14 along with about 50 other young men. By the time we graduated that number had dwindled to 14, primarily because a new seminary opened in Missouri drastically reducing our numbers.

Those days in Maryknoll had such a deep impact on us that when we get together now so many years later, it’s as if we never left. It seems to me that Kevin, in particular, cherished those years more than most,

My impression of Kevin, then, is that he was “all in”, completely throwing himself into all activities: academic, social, spiritual. In fact, in his yearbook photo caption, he is described as “active in everything” and “always in a good mood”

Kevin captured one hilarious incident in our book of memories. You have to hear it from him to truly appreciate it. As background, he had gotten into a conversation with Bill Ahl about “spitting for distance”

“...Bill bet me that I couldn’t propel a wad all the way across the road from the balcony there by Branley’s room. I was up for the challenge and I remember that I took a few steps back to add to the projectile’s momentum with a running start. With a three step sprint I let it fly! A perfect arch, high and far. Splat!! Not on the road. Not on the far side of the grass, but rather on the center of the forehead and the eyeglasses of Rev. Edward L. Condon, MM, making his brisk rounds on what otherwise would have been a fine day for all of us. I could not have aimed better or worse had I tried. The surprised target looked up and saw the perpetrator through splattered lenses with that burning gaze, so well remembered. Never tall in stature, I could easily have fit into a thimble at that moment. Even if I had not been seen, I knew that I would have been easily found out. I quickly ran down the stairs and stammered an abject apology. The response-a silent burning glare that a laser would have trouble matching. Wow. I have never been chastened in such a way before or since. I still cringe at the memory!”

Well, despite the impact of these formative years, this “band of brothers” never really got together until our later, nostalgic years. But it has truly been a rebirth for us..

And Kevin has been a peerless leader on this journey back and forward. Kevin and Anne and family have been the most incredibly hospitable hosts in welcoming us old guys to “Bearhaven” for wonderful weekends of eating, drinking and fellowship. One of Kevin’s last expressed regrets was of being unable to host us at what he envisioned as an annual event!

Kevin, unique among us, frequently used the word love in describing his feeling about our group. We truly felt this emotion at our Bearhaven meetings. No matter the diversity of beliefs in our group, and Kevin and I may have represented the polar opposites in that respect, it mattered little as such differences were superficial compared to the common, shared value of respect for one another. It seems to me our country could learn much from examples such as these.

After describing his grim prognosis in clinical, detached terms; in his last message to us Kevin got to the heart of this point when, without a trace of self-pity he mused:

“I have had a very good life with so much to be grateful for. I had wanted to have another Venard gathering at Bearhaven 2018 this spring. But I just don’t have the energy to pull it together. I am sorry about that as I want to show off the dome we constructed last year. It is a growing and healing place that is unique.

I want to thank all of you for being a most significant and meaningful part of my life. We shared formative experiences that shaped and formed us in such a positive manner. What a blessing for all of us. I love you all so very, very much. I would not trade this for anything!