Brother Larry Bradford Passes Away | Benedictine College

Brother Larry Bradford Passes Away

Longtime Benedictine Biologist Was a ‘Renaissance Monk’

Published: Thursday, September 17, 2015

Vespers for the Dead, followed by visitation, will be prayed on Monday, Sept. 21, at 7:00 p.m. in St. Benedict's Abbey Church.  The Mass of Christian Burial for Brother Lawrence will be celebrated in St. Benedict’s Abbey Church on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 10:30 a.m., with interment following in the Abbey cemetery.


Brother Lawrence Bradford (May 24, 1939 – Sep. 15, 2015) died peacefully on Tuesday, Sept. 15, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, surrounded by monks and friends, fortified by the Sacraments of the Church, and having received the Apostolic Pardon.

He taught for 23 years in Benedictine College’s Biology Department, and was an important part of the Benedictine College community.

“Brother Lawrence loved Lagavulin Scotch, Blue Cheese, and New Yorker cartoons,” said Dr. Terrence Malloy, chair of the Biology Department. “For me, he always modeled the 'the inquisitive mind,' and he generously shared that with his students over decades. Larry was loved by many and he will be sorely missed.”

Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis said, “Brother Larry was an important presence on campus. He was a man of science, a man of the Abbey and a man committed to our students. We are grateful for the sacrifices he made for the college throughout his life and our prayers are with him and all of Atchison’s Benedictines.”

He was much prayed for in his final days, included in special petitions at campus Masses and at St. Benedict’s parish.

Larry Glenn Bradford was born on May 24, 1939, in the Southeastern Kansas town of Atlanta and graduated from high school in the Northwestern Kansas town of Palco. He grew up mostly in the high plains of Kansas, about 30 miles northwest of Hays, with his parents Harold and Aurice (Groom) Bradford. His father worked in the oil fields in that area.

Brother Larry attended the University of Kansas and earned the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Bacteriology in 1961. In the interval between 1961 and 1969 he attended St. Benedict's College and entered St. Benedict’s Abbey as a monk, but left in 1967. He lived in Boston, Mass., from then until the summer of 1969 and worked as chief laboratory technician in the virus clinical and research laboratory at the Boston University School of Medicine.

Brother Larry earned a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) degree from Northwestern University in 1970. He then taught high school from 1970 through 1982 in WaKeeney, Kan., Raymore-Peculiar, Missouri, and Maur Hill Prep School in Atchison.

A call to find Christ in community would continue to attract Br. Lawrence’s heart,” said the Abbey, “and in 1978 he again returned to the Abbey to begin a novitiate. This time he stayed.”

In the fall of 1982 the abbot asked if he would like to go back to graduate school to get his Ph.D. so he could teach at Benedictine College. He received a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from The University of Kansas in 1989.

In addition to his position on the faculty of the college, Brother Lawrence fulfilled various  — including Kitchen Master — at the Abbey, where he was known as a “Renaissance Man” for his varied interests.

“One of his favorite books that he often encouraged young monks to read was Leclercq’s The Love of Learning and the Desire for God: A Study of Monastic Culture,” reports the Abbey’s website. “In the 1980s Br. Lawrence was active with Father Robert Brungs, S.J., Ph.D., a physicist who directed The Institute for Theological Encounter with Science and Technology.”

Brother Larry was a part of Benedictine College life well into the 21st century.

Michele Latta in her memories of Sept. 11, 2001, remembered Brother Larry breaking the news to students in a biology lab.

In his 2008 commencement address, Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn mentioned many features of Benedictine College life, ending with, "And on this special day, I bring you a message of great hope:  There is life after Brother Larry’s 'Principles of Biology.'”

In 2009, he was a judge for the awards given in Loomings magazine.

In 2012, Brother Larry was on the committee that oversaw the process of electing a new abbot.

Brother Larry is survived by the monks of the Abbey, two sisters, Karen Lee (Arthur), Salina, Kan., and Shirley Ruda (Kenneth), Atwood, Kan., and one brother, Harold Bradford, San Simon, Ariz.; nieces and nephews, and numerous colleagues and friends.

Click here for the Abbey’s remembrance of Brother Lawrence Bradford.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by the Newman Guide. This year the college was named an All-Steinway School by Steinway & Sons pianos. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.