Memorialists: ‘Bear’ Roy embodied the best of St. Mike’s
Effectively communicating the very best of Saint Michael’s College and its spirit was an aim of an Admission event Saturday that drew 200-plus registrants to campus. The same mission was achieved vividly in a different but no-less-uplifting way at the memorial Mass in the Chapel the same glorious autumn morning as several hundred extended “family” lovingly celebrated the life and spirit of Barry Roy ’67 — a big-hearted “bear” of a man and longtime trustee who died in August.
The chapel’s main center section was filled to capacity by friends, classmates, family, fellow trustees and others whose lives were touched by the philanthropy, generosity and bigger-than-life personality of a man whose nickname was “Bear.” Many drove hundreds of miles to be there. The celebrant was Bear’s classmate, Rev. Marcel Rainville, S.S.E. ’67, who said in his homily that Roy, by the way he lived his life for others, was “a sign of God in Christ, a kind of sacrament to the one in which he was baptized as a child.”
Fr. Marcel spoke about Roy’s role as “godfather” to so many, either “actual or honorary,” saying that what Roy learned at Saint Michael’s and in his earlier Catholic education growing up in Connecticut, “he applied and amplified in the love he gave back to the family he created out of all ‘godchildren,’ whether those who he stood up for in a religious ceremony or whether they were the adopted ‘support of the underdog ones’” that Jason Dunion, a lifetime close family of “Bear,” evoked in his moving eulogy that came just before the funeral Mass liturgy proper, with Barry Roy’s cremated remains contained within a sealed vessel before the altar. Close to 10 Edmundites vested and were on the altar concelebrating the Mass. The audience included Saint Michael’s President Lorraine Sterritt.
Roy was an only child who never had children of his own, the eulogist Dunion said, and so “Bear” often told him how “families watched out for each other’s kids like they were their own” in his childhood neighborhood. “Maybe it’s not surprising [then] that he had a real gift for embracing the people around him as if they were his own,” he said. “He championed those in his life that he loved and always championed the underdog … ferociously.”
That same spirit seemed to fuel Roy’s philanthropy and service, Dunion said. Bear’s most valued legacies, he said, include a kind heart and humor that lit up a room, his tireless work on the Saint Michael’s Trustees on behalf of the College and the Michaelmen “Band of Brothers” who were his lifetime friends, continuing support for his Catholic grade school in Connecticut, projects to fight paralysis and ALS, historical restoration projects in which he took keen interest; and the love among his circle of close friends on Martha’s Vineyard of recent decades (many present for the ceremony), along with younger family members who cherished their memories of following their irrepressible “honorary uncle” around “as if he was the Pied Piper.”
Said Fr. Marcel, “Bear oozed a joy for Life that came from God in Christ, which he offered to God in the persons he loved. I do not believe there is anyone honoring Bear today who does not carry within themselves the love they saw in him.” Fr. Marcel said his clasmate was a true expression of the teaching from the day’s liturgy’s St. Paul epistle: “no one lives for oneself, we life for the Lord.”
Music for the ceremony was provided by Edmundite Campus Ministry music minister Jerome Monachino ’91 and vocalist Maria Rinaldi ’00 with Monachino’s son Dominic on bass and Madeline Walker de Hughes ’21 singing Ave Maria for the Presentation of Gifts. Readers were Barbara Sullivan and Molly Mayfield; Rev. Brain Cummings, S.S.E. ’86, director of Edmundite Campus Ministry, read the Gospel, and Fr. Charlie Ranges ’67, a close friend and classmate of Roy, offered the Prayers of the Faithful.
All present were invited directly following the Mass to come to a handsome campus venue named in honor of Barry Roy, the Roy Event Room of Dion Family Student Center, to enjoy a Sodexo-catered reception that was very well-attended.