Eulogy given by
Br. Edward Davis, FSC
FROM PSALM 90:
All our days have passed away.
We have spent our years like a sigh.
Seventy is the sum of our years,
Or eighty if we are strong.
They pass quickly, and we pass away.
Teach us to number our days aright
That we may gain wisdom of heart;
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness
That we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
None of us, I should think, was brought up in a household as unique as the Albrights. That your father is the world’s leading biblical archaeologist is enough, but joined with a mother who has a Ph.D. in Sanskrit makes for a fascinating childhood. I doubt that the dinner conversation was a script from “Father Knows Best.” Of course, to those who met them and knew them, Mr. and Mrs. Albright were simply gentle and conscientious American parents.
Hugh was always fond of his family. Not too long ago he visited his nephew and niece in western Canada. He enjoyed visiting his niece Felicia in Baltimore, and both he and I corresponded regularly with nephews Hugh and James in Raleigh.
He began his contact with the Christian Brothers when he attended the Calvert Hall Country School in Baltimore as a young boy. (It has long been closed down.) Hugh enjoyed his stay there, not least as a contrast to the Sisters at Sacred Heart School in Mt. Washington. From there it was on to the Junior Novitiate and Novitiate at Ammendale, Maryland.
My first contact with Hugh, then Brother Alban, was when I arrived at Anselm Hall in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, as a Scholastic Brother in 1953. Hugh, quite young but already with a doctorate, directed the choir, and did a very good job getting us to produce a passable version of plainchant. Could anyone say he did not have hidden talents?
He was teaching here at La Salle University, and he was a superb teacher. Just ask any one of his former students, many of whom are here at this Mass. He was one of the first recipients of the Christian and Mary Lindback Award for distinguished teaching, earning him the small brass nameplate on display in the lobby of Connelly Library.
Hugh had many passions. Number one was certainly mathematics. He was a theoretical mathematician, and it was clear that he found not only science and knowledge but also real beauty in his chosen field.
Everyone is aware of his great love for Jane Austen. Hugh and I are both charter and life members of the Jane Austen Society of North America, having previous to that joined the Jane Austen Society based in Hampshire, England. I cannot forget that we both attended the first meeting of the North American group held at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York. We were delighted that one of the founders, Joan Austen-Leigh, referred not to Miss Austen, but to Great Great Aunt Jane. Hugh far outdid me: he had read Pride and Prejudice more than twenty times in English, two times in French, and once in Spanish. And until his recent illnesses made it too difficult, he attended all of the meetings.
Another great enjoyment was walking. As often as he could, he would take the local train to center city and walk extensively through Philadelphia, going as far down as the Italian market or west beyond 30th Street Station.
He had a love of music and art. Innumerable times he made the effort to visit the Barnes Foundation (and with the strange visiting rules and restrictions, it was an effort) and of course, both the Philadelphia Museum and the Metropolitan Museum in New York. He would sit for hours in the living room with a book listening to CD’s of Mitsuko Uchida playing all the Mozart sonatas.
Another of his interests was the ancient board game of GO. I often saw him at his desk, totally absorbed in practice games, and he attended the national conventions. He attained a very high national ranking, although never quite breaking into the Dan levels.
I cannot close these reminiscences without mentioning his love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. At least three shelves of books and DVD’s are the evidence. Detective novels and fantasy books were favorites. Just in the last year he read every one of the endlessly long Harry Potter books—twice!
For a long time while he lived in our community, Hugh regularly spent several weeks in the summer with the Clavius Group, a gathering of mathematicians and their families. They would travel to various places that would provide them with rooms and study and meeting space and talk about mathematics: for most of us, I am sure, a mind-boggling concept of summer recreation. Hugh had the privilege of spending time with his fellow Clavius members in Mexico City, Worcester, Massachusetts, Princeton, and Paris, among other places.
This reminds me that on one of his earlier trips to Paris, he stayed at the Brothers’ community at Rue de Sevres. The ordinary accommodation for traveling Brothers was a dormitory style room with three or four beds. Hugh got a private room by the simple expedient of telling the guest master that he always slept in the nude.
I lived in community with Hugh for more than forty years. He was the easiest person to live with that I can remember. Never did he show anger or impatience or criticism. He never lost his temper. He had a wonderful sense of humor and a passionate enjoyment of life.
For the last almost one year, Hugh was not well. It was sad to see his interests and enjoyments slowly slipping away. He was well aware of his declining health and of his increasingly confused thinking and remembering; but, as always, he accepted all things without complaint. He was able until the end. He was uncomfortable but never suffered pain.
And Jesus went to Bethany to the home of his friends, and he cried out, “Lazarus, come out.” The dead man came out.
And Jesus said, “Untie him, and let him go free.”
Please pray for the happy repose of the soul of
Br. Hugh Albright, FSC
Born Hugh Norton Albright in Jerusalem, PALESTINE, on February 27, 1928
Entered the Ammendale Juniorate on August 2, 1942, and Ammendale Novitiate on June 11, 1945
Received the Religious Habit Name, Brother Edelwald Alban, on September 7, 1945
Pronounced Perpetual Vows in Ocean City, NJ on August 28, 1953
Brother Hugh died at Chestnut Hill Hospital in Philadelphia, PA on February 24, 2011
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Viewing from 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Mass of Christian Burial at 8:00 pm
Reception in De La Salle Community
De La Salle Chapel
La Salle University
1900 West Olney Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19141-1199
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Prayer Service at 11:00 am followed by burial
La Salle Hall
Beltsville, MD 20705-1202
Burial at the Brothers’ cemetery, La Salle Hall, Beltsville
SUFFRAGES FOR OUR DECEASED BROTHER HUGH
District: 100 masses
St. Mary’s Hall community: 30 masses
Each community in the District: 1 mass
Brother Hugh was being treated at Chestnut Hill Hospital for congestive heart failure. When his vital signs weakened significantly, Sister Maryann Burgoyne, RSM requested that a priest be called to anoint Brother Hugh. He died peacefully shortly after being anointed. May he rest in peace.
Tour of Duty
De La Salle College
St. Francis Vocational School
Elkins Park, PA
Elkins Park, PA
La Salle University
La Salle University
St. Mary’s Hall Residence
St. Mary’s Hall
May the soul of Brother Hugh, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace.