This Day in Bonaventure History

By Joe Pinter, News Editor, @JPinter93

November 8, 1873

St. Bonaventure University’s ninth president, Fr. Fidelis Reynolds, was born on this day in Brooklyn, N.Y. The first native-born president of both the college and seminary, he started off his career practicing law in New York City.

After a while, he decided to become a priest and enrolled at Bonaventure in 1896. He graduated in 1901, the same year he would enter the Franciscan order.

Fr. Fidelis completed his novitiate in Paterson, N.J. and then studied theology at the Franciscan College at Mount Saint Sepulchre in Washington, D.C. He was ordained as a priest in 1907 and joined Bonaventure’s faculty as both a friar and as a lecturer of mathematics.

Fr. Alexander Hickey became severely ill in 1911, and Fr. Fidelis was named the interim vice president. Not long afterward, Fr. Joseph Butler, university president, died, and Fr. Fidelis was named president.

Fr. Fidelis is most remembered for the advancements he made in the school’s academic structure. During his tenure, the high school, college and seminary were separated. He also helped add physics, biology and chemistry to the university.

In addition, he helped oversee the construction of Butler Gym, which was built as a memorial to the late president. Fr. Fidelis retired in 1916.

He enjoyed retirement for more than twenty years. However, he passed away in 1937 in Miami Beach, Fla.

This Day in Bonaventure History

By Joe Pinter, News Editor, @JPinter93

October 2, 1984

Fr. Joseph Anthony Ruther was born Edwin Rucker in Newark, N.J. on Oct. 7, 1908. After graduating from high school in 1929, he began work in his father’s pharmacy.

After working at the pharmacy, Edwin attended St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.J. On Aug. 26, 1933, he was received into the Novitiate in Paterson, N.J. He then took the holy name Joseph Anthony.

Fr. Joseph then studied at Holy Name College in Washington, D.C. On June 9, 1941, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Corrigan. After ordination, he was assigned to St. Bonaventure University and spent 10 years teaching in the math department and bound books in the book bindery.

In 1973, Fr. Joe retired as an associate professor of mathematics and assistant librarian. However, he would continue to work in the book bindery. It has been said that Fr. Joseph either finished or supervised the binding of more than 50,000 books on various topics.

“Scruffy Joe,” as he came to be referred to as, endeared himself to countless students, faculty, staff and even animals during his time at Bonaventure. According to legend, many birds would follow him around campus as he fed them. A true Franciscan, Fr. Joseph appreciated nature and the natural importance and joy in life. He also kept a mourning dove as a friend.

Fr. Joseph’s health deteriorated in 1981, forcing him to go to the Provincial Infirmary on the bottom floor of the friary. Even throughout his battle with diabetes, he still found time to go to the library and the bindery. By 1983, Fr. Joseph was in and out of the hospital after a serious heart attack.

It was on this day in 1984 that Fr. Joseph passed away.