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University Mourns Former Natural Sciences Chairman


Brother DeSales Lawless, C.F.X., longtime professor of natural sciences at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC), and the department’s first chairman, died Friday, Feb. 29, in Louisville, Ky., at age 87.

“Brother Lawless was a true teacher,” said Robert R. Grimes, S.J., dean of Fordham College at Lincoln Center. “His enthusiasm for his students even outweighed his enthusiasm for his subject. Whenever he heard of a success by one of our alumni, he was in my office announcing it.”

Brother Lawless, a Xaverian brother, was born in Louisville. He held a B.S. from Catholic University, an M.S. from St. John’s University, and Ph.D.s in science education and biochemistry from New York University.

He joined Fordham’s Liberal Arts College in 1969 as the first scientist on the faculty of the young college, where he taught for 34 years. (FCLC, then known as “The Liberal Arts College,” began classes in September 1968.) Brother Lawless founded the Department of Science and Mathematics, which later became the Department of Natural Sciences, at Lincoln Center, and began FCLC’s very successful PreMedical Program. He was named associate professor emeritus in September 1990 (a mandatory retirement at age 70 was then in place), but continued to teach at FCLC until 2003, when he returned to Louisville to live at the Xaverian Brothers retirement home.

“Brother Lawless was a creative and insightful researcher,” said Joan Roberts, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Natural Sciences. “I personally benefited from our scientific collaboration. He was extremely generous as a mentor and arranged for many of our undergraduate students to do research work at Rockefeller University. He will be missed by all of us; scientists, mathematicians and all the faculty who knew him and worked with him here at Lincoln Center. We send out love to his family and have him in our prayers.”

Before coming to Fordham, Brother Lawless taught at Mt. St. Joseph’s High School in Baltimore, Md.; was headmaster of St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in Bardstown, Ky.; and taught for five years at Xaverian High School in Brooklyn, N.Y.

The wake and Mass of Christian Burial will be held for Brother Lawless at Ryken House, the Xaverian Brothers’ home in Louisville, on March 3 and March 4, respectively. Cards and flowers may be sent to:

Xaverian Brothers
1607 Poplar Level Road
Louisville, KY 40217


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