Fr. Bob Botthof, O.P.
When Bob Botthof came to Jesuit Hall in his first year of studies, I had an easy time relating to him, both because he had been a Christian Brother (I was taught by them in high school CBC St Louis), and because of his military experience. His career as an educator united the two major high schools of Oak Park, Fenwick and Oak Park-River Forest (Hemingway’s own; Hem got a Nobel prize in literature, thanks to their good foundation, without ever spending a day at a university or college!) Bob became principle of both schools, an amazing fact, like being the Catholic and Anglican bishops of a city, successively. He was a gentlemanly, reconciling soul. May he rest in peace.
— Contributed by Fr. Benedict T. Viviano OP
Last year, before I entered the novitiate, I was in Bloomington, Indiana, as a Dominican Volunteer living with the community. I will never forget the impact of Fr. Bob Botthof. He always had a smile on his face, and joy in his heart. We exchanged many laughs, and shared plenty of deep conversations. In every encounter with him, his compassion always shined through, and I knew he cared for me, as well as all those whose lives he impacted very deeply. When I first arrived in Bloomington, I spent plenty of time apologizing for silly little things that really didn’t matter. One day he pulled me aside and told me, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, you always say I’m sorry.” He went on to explain to me that everyone there, him included, liked me and cared about me and that I didn’t need to apologize. He helped me to accept myself for who I am, accept God’s grace in my life, and share abundant joy with others. He would often compliment me and other members of the community, with a smile on his face, using his catch-phrase that everything was wonderful. He would often reply after I’d tell him stories, ‘Isn’t that wonderful.’ He was a wonderful friar, and a dear friend. I miss our daily conversations very much, but as a prayer card he once gave me said, “Our loved ones only go from us to God, and God is very near.” He will always be near to me in my heart.
— Contributed by