Brother Louis William Coe, CSC

December 28, 1931 – March 14, 2018

Brother Louis William Coe, CSCThe prayers of the members of the Congregation of Holy Cross are requested for the repose of the soul of Brother Louis William Coe, CSC, a member of the Moreau Province of Brothers and Priests. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Br. Louis died in Austin, Texas, on March 14, 2018. He was in his 69th year of religious life in the Congregation.

Born in New Orleans in 1931 on the feast of the Holy Innocents, December 28, Louis William Coe grew up in the Gentilly area, on the Lake Ponchartrain side of that great city. At St. James Major, the local parish, he was baptized, confirmed and educated through elementary school.

His Honduran-born father, Edward Clarence Coe, worked as a city transit operator, driving buses and street cars, including the famous one on Desire Street. Augusta Johnson Coe, his mother, was kept busy at home with Lou, his older sister, and then five more siblings. Several uncles on the paternal side were sailors, and their tales and souvenirs from around the world brightened spirits and shelves at the home.

When the State of Louisiana decided to add an 8th grade to all elementary schools, students completing 7th grade could go on to 9th grade at the school of their choice, if accepted. Lou passed the qualifying exam at Holy Cross School and skipped 8th grade to enter 9th. The test was administered by Brother Fisher Iwasko, providing Lou his first contact with a Holy Cross Brother.

While attending high school, to help cover expenses, Lou kept busy delivering newspapers, at first delivering papers in the afternoons, but later switching to a morning route with the Times Picayune. During his sophomore year, Lou was awarded a $25 savings bond for having one of the highest scholastic averages of all the New Orleans evening newspaper carriers.

After graduating from Holy Cross School in 1948, Lou cashed in that savings bond to help pay for his train ride to Watertown, Wisconsin, where he entered the juniorate program for the Congregation of Holy Cross at Sacred Heart College.

The following February, Lou entered St. Joseph’s Novitiate, Rolling Prairie, Indiana, and professed his first vows there on February 2, 1950. He made his final profession of vows as a Brother on August 16, 1953 at Holy Cross School, New Orleans.

Right after first profession, Brother Louis was assigned to the Sorin Hall Scholaticate for studies at St. Edward’s University. He helped move the old Holy Cross Annex across campus to become the new scholaticate, and when the building was ready, he was the first housekeeper at Vincent Hall. For his course of studies, Brother Louis majored in physical science and minored in mathematics. He put Brothers Edmund, Simon and Romard at the top of his list as the best teachers he had at SEU.

In 1952-1953, as he was completing his B.S. degree, Brother Louis taught chemistry at St. Edward’s High School and coached the 7th and 8th grade Cubs in basketball and baseball. Reflecting on these years with other VH alumni, Brother Lou wrote in 2001: “We helped ourselves, and we helped St. Ed’s to grow to what it is today, and the best is yet to come.”

After graduation in 1953, Brother Louis’ teaching assignments over the next 20 years took him to Holy Cross schools in Indianapolis, Indiana; Biloxi, Mississippi; Miami, Florida; Hayward, CA; and to his own alma mater in New Orleans, Louisiana. He even ventured into teaching for a year at Colégio Notre Dame, Campinas, Brazil.

At several of the high schools, Brother Lou helped out in the athletic department, driving the team bus, taking tickets at sporting events, officiating at track meets, coaching tennis and cross country teams. The 19721973 soccer team he coached at Holy Cross School, New Orleans won both the City and State Championships.

During summers, Brother Louis continued his studies, especially in math and the emerging field of computer science, taking advantage of NSF programs at a variety of institutions until finally completing an M.S. degree from Catholic University in Washington, DC in 1967.

In 1973, Brother Louis was assigned to St. Edward’s University, where he spent the next 30 years of his teaching ministry. He taught math and computer courses and became an Assistant Professor. In his later years at SEU, he enjoyed directing the math lab, because one never knew what problems a student would bring in. Also, in his retirement, he taught algebra at San Juan Diego High School.

Throughout his life, Brother Lou actively enjoyed sports: bowling, softball, tennis. In Austin, he played these sports in City Leagues and school tournaments, and was a part of a regular tennis four-some on weekends. Fishing and photography were among his hobbies.

Brother Lou was also attentive to community life. He always wanted to feel that he was contributing to the common effort, and was disappointed if he felt others were not pitching in. Brother Keric Dever, speaking of Brother Lou on the occasion of his 50th anniversary of vows, said: “He is dependable, efficient, generous. If you were choosing sides for a work crew or a long term project, he’d be your first round draftee.”

Brother Louis served as the religious superior of St. Joseph Hall from 1981-1987, and for years was that community’s bookkeeper and house chronicler. For a number of years after his retirement from St. Edward’s University, he was the archivist for the South-West Province, overseeing a significant reorganization of the holdings.

For years at SEU, to the enjoyment of many, Brother Louis ran the annual college football pool. For a $2 entry fee, a participant would pick teams and point spreads and, at the end of the season, the top guessers split the pot.

Brother Lou usually maintained a quiet personality in community. At table, he might or might not respond to a question, and one was often left to wonder whether he was deaf or just intentionally ignoring impertinence.

In his last few years, at the Brother Vincent Pieau Residence, Brother Lou’s hearing and eyesight greatly diminished, and he became incapacitated. Much comfort was brought to him by visits from his brothers in community and the kind attentions of the staff who cared for him daily. At times they would wheel him outside to enjoy some sunshine or even sing to him. On Wednesday morning, March 14, 2018, at the age of 86, comfortably relieved of any anxiety or pain, Brother Louis peacefully surrendered his soul to his Maker. May he now rejoice before God in all the sights, sounds and delights of heaven.

Br. Richard Critz C.S.C.

A Pioneer

Good morning, I am pleased to offer these words of reflection on the life of our brother, Louis Coe.

First of all, I wish to acknowledge and thank Br. Richard Critz for his wonderful obituary statement on the life of Brother Lou. His words are guiding my reflection.

Louis Coe was born in 1931 and raised in New Orleans within a loving, supportive and Catholic family. Being in New Orleans also meant that Brother Lou received great affirmation from his Gentilly neighborhood, his parish, Holy Cross High School and the City at large. In the days of Lou’s youth, the city of New Orleans had the unique feel of one big supportive family. “The streets were the play grounds for the neighborhood,” as Charles so aptly expressed yesterday evening at our memorial prayer service. Today, even though many native New Orleans’ are dispersed throughout the country, this family spirit still exists in their hearts and minds. I especially feel this when I visit our Holy Cross School now existing in the Gentilly neighborhood.

In 1948, after graduating from Holy Cross and being influenced by the life of the Brothers there, he decided to join the Congregation of Holy Cross. That summer he took the train to Watertown, Wisconsin to begin his formation in the juniorate program at Sacred Heart College. From there, Lou entered St. Joseph Noviate at Rolling Prairie, Indiana and professed his first vows in February, 1950.

Immediately following his first profession, Lou traveled to Austin to begin his studies at St. Edward’s University. He first resided at Sorin Hall, at that time the Scholaticate for student Brothers. During his studies, Lou had the privilege of helping to construct Vincent Hall Scholaticate and once open for occupancy, Lou became the building’s first housekeeper. Those of us who arrived at Vincent Hall in the early sixties, owe a great debt to those pioneer Brothers of the fifties who provided us with a beautiful, but practical home to live and study in.

After graduating from St. Ed’s in 1953 with a bachelor of science degree, Lou returned to New Orleans in August of that year to make his final profession of vows at Holy Cross High School in the presence of the Holy Cross community and his family. Shortly thereafter, our Brother Lou began his teaching ministry in various high schools of the Congregation. For twenty years, he faithfully taught math and science to his students and served Holy Cross schools in various capacities in Indianapolis, Biloxi, Miami, Hayward, New Orleans and Campinas. Along with his teaching, Lou continued his study of math, science and the emerging field of computer science. In 1967, he received his master of science degree from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

In 1973, after tiring of adolescent behavior in the classroom, Brother Lou began his thirty year teaching ministry at St. Edward’s University. Enjoying greatly the life of a college professor, he became an active participant in the life of the Holy Cross community at St. Joseph Hall, serving the needs of the community as bookkeeper, gardener and superior. Lou also enjoyed being active in sports, mainly tennis and softball. He was also an avid fisherman and photographer.

Br. Richard Daly, in a reflection on the occasion of Brother Lou’s 50th anniversary of profession, stated, “One of Lou’s great virtues is patience, which no doubt serves him and his students well.” Richard goes on to state, regarding their years together in Miami at Archbishop Curley, “In those days, as today, Lou was a steady, consistent, and highly reliable colleague.” Finally, he states, “My only regret is that I have never been able to beat him in tennis singles.”

Br. Keric Dever, in 1990, wrote of Brother Lou, “Br. Lou has always been a dependable, efficient and generous person. If one were choosing sides for a work crew, or a short-term project, he’d be first round draftee.” While we know Lou maintained a quiet personality in community, he truly was a generous and caring person.

I have had the privilege of living with Lou at St. Joseph Hall during his later retirement years and his growing impairment in eye sight and hearing. He used to tell me that he could see and hear well enough. However, our conversations usually had to be of high volume and small print was impossible for him to read. As he was throughout his life, Br. Lou was reluctant to go to doctors, especially if the visit would require follow up action on his part. Thus, his hearing and eyesight loss increased. When taking him to doctors, sometimes quite firmly, we did enjoy good conversations. While quiet in community life, Lou did open up when riding in the car and most of our sharing centered on spiritual life. He shared several times, that with his poor eyesight and lack of hearing he was ready to go to heaven. I would gently remind him that God had given him the gift of a very strong heart and the Lord would call him in due time.

Four years ago, when Lou began to need assistance, he agreed generously to move to Brother Vincent Pieau Residence. As he became more and more incapacitated he was supported by his Brothers in community and the kind attentions of the staff who cared for him daily. On Wednesday morning, March 14, the Lord called Lou to heaven. Lou, our Brother, you are now at rest in the Lord. We know your sight and hearing are restored and you are seeing the glories of heaven and hearing the angels sing.

Eulogy by Br. William Nick, CSC
Br. Vincent Pieau Residence Chapel
Mass of Christian Burial
March 19, 2018

Brother Louis William Coe, CSC served the Lord faithfully in the following ministries:

  • 1952-1953 Teacher, St. Edward’s High School, Austin, TX
  • 1953-1956 Teacher, Cathedral High School, Indianapolis, IN
  • 1956-1960 Teacher, Notre Dame High School, Biloxi, MS
  • 1960-1968 Teacher, Archbishop Curley High School, Miami, FL
  • 1968-1969 Teacher, Colégio Notre Dame Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil
  • 1969-1970 Teacher, Holy Cross School, New Orleans, LA
  • 1970-1971 Teacher, Moreau High School, Hayward, CA
  • 1971-1973 Asst. Principal & Director of Studies, Holy Cross School, New Orleans, LA
  • 1973-2003 Teacher, St. Edward’s University, Austin, TX
  • 2003-2014 Resident, St. Joseph Hall, Austin, TX
  • 2014-2018 Resident, Br. Vincent Pieau Residence, Austin, TX