By Joe Pinter, News Editor, @JPinter93
This Day in Bonaventure History
January 30, 1976
Fr. Francis Kearney, O.F.M., was born in Stoneboro, Pa., in 1912. After joining the Franciscan order, he was ordained a priest in 1938. During this time, he attended St. Bonaventure University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree.
He graduated from Columbia University with a master’s in 1942. He returned to Bonaventure, and after a few years working in the philosophy department, he was appointed department chair, a title he held until 1958.
In August 1961, Fr. Francis was named the 14th president of Bonaventure. During his tenure as president (1961-1967), he oversaw the construction of Hopkins Hall, Shay and Loughlen Halls, the Post Office Building and the Reilly Center. An addition was also added on to Friedsam Memorial Library. The building projects cost roughly $10 million at the time.
In December 1966, Fr. Francis was named the Olean Times-Herald’s “Man of the Year,” due to his aggressive additions to the university and its athletic programs. Called a sports fanatic by his colleagues, Fr. Francis attended nearly every athletic event at the school, although his favorites were said to be basketball, swimming and soccer.
It was on this day that Fr. Francis was walking to Plassmann Hall when he collapsed and was pronounced dead.
Still to this day, his tenure as university president is considered one of the most productive in Bonaventure’s history.