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Four veteran faculty support SI as the newest ‘Pillars’

Four veteran teachers and administrators left SI at the end of the school year, three going into retirement, and one – Rev. Anthony P. Sauer, S.J., SI’s former president – reassigned to work in a parish in Phoenix.

Current faculty refer to colleagues who have retired as “Pillars,” recalling the notion that these men and women support the work of current teachers both by the great work they have done and by the mentorship they continue to provide.

The four new Pillars are a substantial contribution to this group. Add up the combined years of Jim Dekker ’68, Kevin Grady, Mary McCarty and Fr. Sauer, and you’ll come up with 140 years of remarkable service to the school.

Each of these four proved to be pioneers in his or her own way, and each leaves SI a better place. When McCarty joined the faculty in 1979, she was one of only five female faculty and helped pave the way for coeducation, something that Fr. Sauer voted upon as one of four trustees. Grady, who served as admissions director for most of his tenure at SI, did more than put into place the processes that made coeducation work; he also crafted student bodies that shaped the direction of the school. Dekker provided a bridge between distinct worlds – coaching both boys’ and girls’ teams and, as SI’s first alumni director, connecting grads from bygone days with their counterparts studying at the Sunset District Campus. 

Jim Dekker ’68

Dekker spent his years at SI mastering many different fields. He proved an exemplary baseball and basketball coach as well as a gifted English teacher, both for the best and brightest AP students and for those who struggled with dangling modifiers. He became the first alumni director in the late 1980s when the development team was just forming under Steve Lovette ’63 and Fr. Sauer. He moderated the literary magazine, The Quill, and developed a passion for Faulker and Hemingway. (He even befriended Faulkner’s nephew at a conference in Mississippi.) He also modeled for students the kind of adult they hoped to become – one who knew when to laugh at himself and when to challenge himself and others to pursue an excellence seemingly beyond reach.

The youngest of three sons (his brothers included Ken ’59 and John ’63), Dekker attended Holy Name School, where he played baseball and basketball for Pete Murray ’57. “Pete taught me how to carry myself as an athlete and as a person,” said Dekker, whose eighth grade baseball team was so good that it traveled to Los Angeles to compete against all-star teams. “He had us sell light bulbs door-to-door to pay our way and wear a coat and tie while we traveled. He taught us never to pop off and always to be polite.”

When he wasn’t playing sports, he was working at his father’s sporting good store, Dekker & Sons, on 20th and Irving. Even in his first years at Holy Name, he would attend games at SI where his brother, Ken, was making a name for himself. (Ken would later sign with the Yankees’ organization and play minor league ball.)

“From 1955, when my brother entered SI, to this day, SI has been a part of the Dekker family.” (Jim and his wife, Lorraine, would later send children, Danielle ’96 and Joe ’98, to SI.)

SI was such a part of his family, that “whenever I saw the letters SI, I assumed they referred to the school, even though I was looking at Sports Illustrated half the time.”

At SI, Dekker played varsity baseball all four years and varsity basketball two years. In addition, all three Dekker brothers each played on two championship baseball teams at SI – a feat no other band of brothers has matched or surpassed. His is also only one of two San Francisco families where each of three brothers have made AAA All-City teams.

In his junior year, he ran for student body president and won, but tragedy struck the summer before his senior year when, as a passenger, he was thrown from a car on a steep stretch of Wawona (now closed to traffic). He would have lost his leg had it not been for Dr. C. Allen Wall ’46, a vascular surgeon whose skill kept Jim from wearing a prosthetic limb. Earlier that summer, Dekker had won the Joe DiMaggio League batting title. After hearing about Dekker’s accident, DiMaggio decided to hand the trophy personally to Dekker at St. Mary’s Hospital, where he spent weeks healing.

As a senior at SCU, he commuted to the city to coach under Keating, and in 1972, he accepted a full-time job at SI teaching English. Two years later, he took over as head baseball coach.

“Jim Keating and Bob Drucker weren’t just coaches,” said Dekker. “They were good men whom I tried to emulate, just like Chuck Murphy ’61 and Leo La Rocca ’53. They are good public speakers, intelligent, active in their communities and great fathers. I thought that’s the way it’s supposed to be. You did more than teach. You were a figure in the community, and that meant something.”

Fr. Sauer was also a model for Dekker. “As a student in his English class at SI, I was a little lazy. He knew how to wake me up, and he encouraged me to apply to Santa Clara. When I told him I couldn’t afford it, he made a call and arranged for me to receive a significant financial aid package. I went to SCU and became an English teacher because of him.”

Dekker left in 1979 to work for Clementina Equipment Company for three years. Following his return, he led the baseball team again, taking the Wildcats to more than 200 victories in 16 years, including a 25–7 season in 1993 and a second-place finish in CCS. Up to that point, no team from San Francisco ever went as far in the CCS as the Wildcats of 1993. That year, the school retired the number Dekker wore as a student athlete: #7.

Dekker then coached in the girls’ basketball program between 1993 and 2002. For that final year, when he served as head coach for the varsity girls, his team turned in an 8–0 season to win both league and CCS titles and finished second in NorCal play. Dekker earned girls’ basketball Coach of the Year honors from the Mercury News, a first for a San Francisco team.

Serving as his assistant coach during those victories was Drucker, who had retired as head boy’s basketball coach in the 1980s. “Some people would find it difficult working with a former coach, but it wasn’t that way. He knew more than I did about basketball, and he helped me see the big picture. We never would have won our championships without him.”

In 1989, Dekker also made SI history as the school’s first alumni director in an era that saw unprecedented growth, both to the school’s campus and to its endowment fund. He was part of a development team that launched the Genesis III campaign to remodel the school and add the new gym and pool.

“Those were exciting times,” he recalled. “Luckily, Steve Lovette knew what he was doing and helped me grow with the job.”

Under his tenure, Dekker helped establish alumni chapters in Phoenix, Los Angeles and Portland, Washington, DC, San Diego and Seattle. He also handpicked representatives for each class to help organize reunions and other alumni events such as the June All-Class Reunion, which he established along with the Alumni Association. That event grew from 150 to 400 participants since its inception.

He oversaw the annual fund, which grew from $250,000 to $1 million annually, the endowed scholarship program, the major gifts and grants committees and the Downtown Business Lunch.

For Dekker, the crowning point of his tenure was the school’s sesquicentennial celebration that brought 7,000 alumni, parents and students back to SI. He served on a committee headed by Fred Tocchini ’66 helping to produce “the best event in the school’s history; it was also a great symbol of what we had accomplished over the past 20 years.”

He left the alumni job in 2005 to return to the classroom full time to teach American literature and AP English and to continue to moderate The Quill.

The SI Alumni Association honored Dekker at its June 7 All-Class Reunion by announcing that the Alumni Office would be renamed for him. In addition, Supervisor Mark Farrell ’92 spoke at the dinner, announcing that the supervisors and Mayor Ed Lee had declared June 7 Jim Dekker Day for the City of San Francisco. Farrell had Dekker’s former baseball players read lines from the citation, and Joe Dekker delivered a speech that evoked tears and laughter from those assembled.

In his retirement, Dekker plans to finish the book he started writing a year ago, continue swimming in the San Francisco Bay and spend more time with his family, including his grandsons.

Mary McCarty

Mary McCarty is used to standing out in a classroom. As a high school student assigned Latin as her second language, she wound up crossing the quad to attend Latin 3 and 4 classes on the “boys’ side,” in the first coed classes offered at her school.

“That was a tough year, as I wasn’t used to talking in front of boys or challenging their opinions. I didn’t speak up very much that year.”

A longtime fan of mythology, McCarty grew up reading stories of Greek and Roman gods, and that fascination with the classics kept with her at UC Santa Barbara, where she discovered that she preferred Latin over English classes. She formally declared classics as a major after the head of the Classics Department saw her walking down a hall and said that he had been hearing good things about her from her TAs. “His personal attention – his cura personalis – meant so much to me that I decided to become a classics major.” Once again, she often found herself the only woman in her classes.

She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UC Santa Barbara and taught in Southern California for three years before applying in 1979 to SI, as her school only offered Latin to freshmen and sophomores.

In San Francisco, she joined a predominantly Jesuit and male faculty. The only other women on the faculty then were Katie Wolf (studio art), Anny Medina (French and Spanish), Carolyn Rocca (Italian) and Katie Robinson (counseling).

“Those poor priests didn’t know what had hit them when I was hired,” said McCarty. (She started her career at SI as Mary Husung; she changed her name after marrying Perry McCarty, and the two sent their sons, Christopher ’05 and Andrew ’08 to SI.)

She taught alongside legendary Jesuit Latin teachers such as Rev. Dominic Harrington, S.J. ’30, and Rev. Elmo Dodd, S.J., as well as lay teachers such as Bob Graby, who headed the department and was looking to expand it.

The first month, after losing her car in a wreck, she once again found herself outnumbered by men as she carpooled from Marin with Lovette, Bill Love ’59 and Frank Corwin for a month.

Her all-male classes “probably gave me a hard time, but I don’t recall it being all that difficult,” said McCarty. “As tough as my first years probably were, I thought I had landed in heaven up here. The students were more polite and better trained than in my previous school, and everyone had a sense of mission that I hadn’t encountered before.”

In her long career at SI, McCarty moderated the Junior Classical League, several Christian Life Communities and the Christmas Food Drive. She also served on the Faculty Development Board, the Professional Development Committee, as moderator of the Faculty Forum and as a director for freshmen and senior retreats.

She also survived years of plummeting Latin enrollment when more students began choosing Spanish over Latin. At one point, the school had only five sections of Latin, with McCarty teaching all five preps. She worked hard to attract more students, asking students to dress in togas during Open Houses and greeting prospective parents and students with “salve.”

Her strategy worked, and the program grew to necessitate the hiring of a second teacher, Grace Gamoso (now Grace Curcio), who offered a tribute to McCarty at the Faculty In-Service.

Some of McCarty’s students went on to pursue classics in college, including Rev. Mick McCarthy, S.J. ’82, a former classics teacher at SCU and a member of SI’s Board of Trustees. “To help him prepare for Greek studies at Oxford, he would come to my ParkMerced apartment and sit at the kitchen table while we read Latin and Greek all summer. My Greek was so rusty, that I could barely tell the difference between a noun and a verb. But he did OK despite that, and by the end of the summer we were both reading Homer ‘s Iliad with ease.”

McCarty also proved a pivotal figure during the move to coeducation. “I remember the day Fr. Prietto announced that we would be accepting applications from female students. Even though I was prepared for it, as we had done preliminary discernment as a faculty, his announcement still brought tears to my eyes. I felt as if the other half of the human race was being recognized and affirmed. SI was acknowledging that women could be scholars and athletes and leaders and everything else that we had been educating our young men to become.”

The change to coeducation, she added, “made such a huge difference in this school. The classroom was more polite and there was more heart to the place.”

McCarty kept her students’ interest for Latin alive – (“It’s not a dead language,” she said. “If I had a dollar for every time I heard that, I could have retired years ago”) – through JCL activities and conventions, which always included fun and games, such as chariot races. Over the years, chariots built by students ranged from ones that could have been featured in Ben Hur to some a little more makeshift. “Cornelia was a beautiful chariot, red and blue of course, with gold embellishment, and although it was somewhat bulky, our teams won several races at state conventions,” said McCarty. “Our first endeavor was not as elegant; a couple of boys removed the blades from a lawn mower, duct-taped a dustpan to the body and tied a rope to its handle so four students could pull it while some intrepid young man would stand on the dustpan praying he wouldn’t fall off.”

She also embraced teaching Latin with new technologies, from computers and ebooks to iPads and vocabulary apps.

Even though she will be leaving SI, her contribution to Latin studies will continue as she now serves as president of the California Classical Association, a group interested in the study of Latin and Greek. She plans to spend her retirement traveling to Europe with her husband and learning how to play piano and paint. She may also take online courses through Stanford and write a blog about teaching Latin.

There she may recount one of her favorite moments from the classroom. “A fourth year student told me that it’s so much easier and better to read a passage in Latin than to try to translate it into English, understanding that the two languages aren’t interchangeable. That was a moment of success, to see this young man struggle and finally appreciate what he was learning.”


Kevin Grady

Kevin Grady used to joke that every year around March he went from being the most popular man in San Francisco to one of the most disliked – after the letters of admission went out from SI to the homes of anxious 8th graders.

For a quarter century, Grady had the toughest job at SI: serving as admissions director and crafting a new class each year. “Most years, I had to say no to 60 percent of those applying,” said Grady. “Those included some wonderful children of alumni and siblings of current students.”

Grady did his best to make those not accepted feel valued. “Each letter that would go out would prove emotionally draining both for the admissions team and for the student receiving the letter.”

Grady also took a few hits during SI’s transition to coeducation, something that other high schools in the Bay Area didn’t want to see happen.

Rather than be defensive or confrontational, Grady took a collaborative approach to assuage their fears. He and other admissions directors worked with Sister Glenn Anne McPhee, O.P., then superintendent for Catholic schools for the San Francisco Archdiocese, to agree to common admissions guidelines that would allow students to take entrance exams at any school, not just their first choice. He also worked with other admissions teams to adopt a common recommendation form to ease the burden on grammar school teachers, principals and pastors.

Grady also pioneered a paperless admissions process at SI, one that he demonstrated to admissions directors at a conference sponsored by the Jesuit Secondary Educational Association.

He brought to the job a unique set of skills that included an MBA degree, time as a Jesuit scholastic and a fierce sense of athletic competition.

At Del Valle High School in Walnut Creek, Grady played basketball, baseball and football and earned all-league quarterback honors. He attended SCU on an athletic scholarship and played wide receiver under Pat Malley ’49.

After receiving his degree in economics, Grady worked in Micronesia as a Jesuit Volunteer. “Living in the Jesuit community there planted the seeds of vocation in me, as did a retreat I made with my father.”

After earning his MBA at Cal’s Haas School of Business, he worked as an accountant and in the restaurant industry before deciding to enter the Society of Jesus in 1979. He spent seven years as a Jesuit, three of them teaching religious studies at SI between 1983 and 1986. After a leave of absence, he married and returned to SI in 1988 after Fr. Prietto offered him a job as admissions director.

His first year back, he worked under Art Cecchin ’63 “who proved then and continues to be a tremendous mentor.” Grady also had a warm welcome from the SI Jesuit community, who were grateful that he returned. “I ended up serving in the same way that I might have as a Jesuit,” said Grady. “But this time, I ended up using my MBA and marketing skills in the admissions office.”

He set to work increasing the numbers of students applying to the school, and his work paid off, with the last all-male class ringing in at 320. “That was among the largest classes we had ever registered. We could have remained a strong all-boys’ school if we had chosen to.”

Going coed, he added, made SI even better and more popular among the boys as their applications increased by 100. “We also solidified our standing as a regional school. Also, despite the initial shock of SI going coed among admissions offices around the city, we built a great community of admissions folks, as we enjoyed each other’s company.”

Grady praised those who worked with him over the years, including Lori Yap. “She kept me fresh and continued pushing for innovation in the admissions office. She made sure we never rested on our laurels.”

Admissions Associate Kareem Guilbeaux ’01 “is the happiest man on campus,” said Grady. “I thoroughly enjoyed working with him and give him kudos for helping us develop a diverse student body. Emily Behr ’93, Abram Jackson and Elizabeth Purcell also proved key in our becoming more diverse.”

Despite his busy schedule, Grady found time to coach football for three years and cross country for 10 years, the latter half as head coach for the boys’ varsity team. A gifted competitor at Triathlons, Grady did more than keep up with his runners over the years as he pushed them to excel. His teams won five CCS championships and twice finished among the top three at the State meet, including a State Championship in 1996. He helped launch numerous runners into outstanding high school and college running careers.

Grady left his job as admissions director three years ago to return to teaching full time. “I was repeating myself and hoped to do something different.”

His greatest joy over the years came from watching his daughters, Kerry ’07 and Erin ’09, compete in basketball and volleyball at SI. The two even played on the same basketball team the year the varsity girls made it to the final four in NorCal play at Arco Arena.

Grady also praised the SI faculty, “who are a delight to work with. They are so dedicated to the ministry of education. Watching our faculty do more than just teach my daughters but love them was an amazing thing to behold. My girls had incredible teachers who made them love learning and love being here. They both got as much out of SI as you possibly could get.”

Grady is contemplating a second career working with the elderly, perhaps doing hospital chaplaincy, hospice work, spiritual direction or even serving them as a personal trainer.


Rev. Anthony P. Sauer, S.J.

In the 158-year history of SI, there have been great Jesuits and lay people whose legacy has benefited the school in the most profound and long-lasting ways. Certainly Fr. Sauer is among them.

When he announced in May that his new assignment would take him to St. Francis Xavier Church in Phoenix, where he would serve as associate pastor, the SI community felt saddened.

Fr. Sauer served as president for 27 of his 40 years at SI (from 1979 to 2006), the longest anyone has held that job in the 158 years SI has been in San Francisco. He was a prime mover in the transition to coeducation, in building the endowment funds to a point where SI can now distribute $2.8 million in tuition assistance to a quarter of the student body, and in expanding and renovating the school’s campus in the various capital campaigns. He also served the school as rector (superior) of the Jesuit community, head counselor, admissions director, campus minister, history teacher, retreat director and moderator of the Ignatian Guild, the Alumni Association, CLCs and many clubs.

As an English teacher, Fr. Sauer taught students how to express themselves with power and grace and to read with precision. Nearly every one of his AP English students passed the AP Literature exam over his many years teaching that course.

“It was a simpler time in the 1960s and 1970s,” he recalls. “I was head of the counseling office because there was only one counselor – me. While I served as campus minister, I also taught full time.”

More importantly, he has served as an unofficial pastor to the SI family, celebrating the sacramental moments of baptism, marriage, anointing of the sick and funerals for thousands of Ignatians.

Fr. Sauer also served as rector and president of Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix between 1974 and 1979, and he returns to a community in Arizona he knows well.

“At heart, Jesuits are missionaries,” said SI Principal Patrick Ruff. “Fr. Sauer is being faithful to his calling by going where he is most needed. Now he will have the opportunity to serve as the associate pastor to a new community, one that will grow to love him just as we love him. We celebrate in him a model Jesuit, one who goes when he is called and embarks on a new chapter of what has already been a storied and exemplary life.”

SI President John Knight added that “as director of the work, I have come to know Tony as a good and faithful colleague these past months. I wish him only the best as he leaves for his new adventure in Phoenix knowing full well that he always has a home at SI.”

Fr. Sauer noted that he will be leaving SI “with a heavy heart, as I love teaching and love the school. Though I’ll be away from many friends, I’m just a United Airlines flight away. I welcome anyone to visit me in Arizona after Sept. 15. We can check out the Grand Canyon and talk about the old Red and Blue!”

He added that “it’s been a long, great ride, I have SI and its students, faculty and staff, fellow Jesuits, parents and families written in my heart. I will never forget them. My thanks to all in the Ignatian community. As the class of 2013 moves on, so, too, will I. But everyone is with me as I go. God bless and peace!”

The Father Sauer Interview: What it means to be a Jesuit 

Fr. Sauer spoke about his transfer to Phoenix to various groups, including the Father Carlin Heritage Society, which met May 22 for their annual spring lunch. He noted then that “maybe it’s time for me to be a parish priest.”

Fr. Carlin, he added “would have gone to the desert with alacrity and grace like the man and Jesuit he was. I hope to follow in his good spirit.”

Fr. Sauer’s move comes at a time when the Oregon and California Provinces are working to combine. As a result, “the provincial will be responsible for an area from the Artic Circle to the Mexican border. He has many slots to fill, and I wholly understand the needs he must serve.”

Given his love for the SI community, “it’s difficult to leave. People ask me if I am at peace. Well, yes and no. Yes, because I will follow my superior’s request loyally and lovingly. No, in the sense that I’m not a robot.”

In May, he sat with Genesis editor Paul Totah ’75 for an interview regarding his departure.

Q: You served in Phoenix for five years in the 1970s as president of Brophy. Who in the Jesuit community there do you know well?

A: Dutch Olivier, S.J. ’44, serves there as minister, and the pastor of the parish is an SI grad: Dan Sullivan, S.J. ’60, with whom I entered, although I’m eight years older than he. I taught Ed Reese, S.J., the president of Brophy, at Loyola High School, where he is a ’62 grad. I don’t know him well, but I also understand that John Martin, S.J., the superior of the Jesuit community there, is a great man working in a great community of about 10 Jesuits who live a five-minute walk away from both the high school and the church. 

Q: How are you feeling about the move? 

A: I’m at peace. Maybe I’m a little stoic, but I’m at peace. 

Q: You have worked at St. Stephen’s Parish over the years and many consider you the “parish priest of SI” given your priestly ministry at so many weddings, baptisms and funerals for our alumni. Will your work in Phoenix be less of a transition as a result of all of this?

A: My ministry at St. Stephen’s every Sunday complements my work as a teacher, but being a teacher has been my fun thing. That influence with so many students and their families has led to my being involved in weddings and baptisms and family funerals. Still, I’m willing to give myself to the all-embracing nature of the parochial priesthood. The provincial has told me that it’s a young, happening parish with many families and a grammar school and an exciting place to be. I really like the classroom and the influence one has with students and families, but I know the parish will be different form of ministry.

Q: Part of the Jesuit charism is the sense of indifference and detachment. Does that come into play when you contemplate this sort of life change?

A: Being detached doesn’t mean being unfeeling. Indifference, as Jesuits use the term, means finding the freedom to choose one way or another in order to give greater glory to God. When the superior says we have other needs, that’s it. Jesuits don’t hold with the idea that if you have been in one place for a while, that’s your niche. There may be greater needs elsewhere. The parish where I will be working has one pastor, and, I believe, two others who only work halftime, including one person who ministers to Spanish-speaking parishioners. I’ll be the only other full-time parish priest for a very large parish.

Maybe being a full-time parish priest will be an exciting thing. As I told the faculty, now I won’t have to worry about preparing my class. It’s an anomaly, but teachers don’t have a lot of time to read. Now I’ll have a little more time. 

Q: What will you miss most about leaving San Francisco? 

A: Aside from all the people here, I’ve been thinking how beautiful and wonderful San Francisco is. I want to take my time and see as much of it as I can before I go and do walking-across-the-Golden-Gate-Bridge sorts of things. As I go, I know that a great ministry continues here, and it will continue to be fruitful with or without my presence. As I go, I want to send my blessing back to all at SI, students, families, teachers, staff and administration.

I really do love SI. It has taken some doing to become enamored of this new project, but I really have. I’ll be back one way or another through the years. As T.S. Eliot writes at the end of The Four Quartets: “All shall be well, and / All manner of thing shall be well.”

Fr. Sauer celebrated the wedding of Jim and Lorraine Dekker in 1974 at St. Gabriel Church. For years, Fr. Sauer has served as the unofficial parish priest of SI, performing weddings, baptisms and funerals for members of the school community.


Posted by Mr. Paul J. Totah on Friday July, 12, 2013

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