Rev. John R. Becker Jr.
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Rev. John R. Becker, Jr., S.J., died suddenly on January 19, 2008, in Phoenix, Arizona. He is survived by a cousin, Sister Miriam Therese, C.S.A., of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. He entered the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and taught English and perfected boarders at Bellarmine College Prep in San Jose from 1950 to 1953. Ordained a priest on June 15, 1956, from 1958 to 1977 he taught English at St. Ignatius College Prep in San Francisco. In 1977 Father came to Brophy College Prep in Phoenix where he was to teach until two days before he died. In his nearly 31 years at Brophy Father taught English at every level, was moderator of the student yearbook and newspaper, a frequent retreat director, and a spiritual guide for numerous people at Brophy and elsewhere. He became known for the unique ways he taught his students so they could remember the finer points of English grammar. He was known for his exceptional personal care for his students. In his early years he was known to his contemporaries as "Johnny Jet" because of his fast pace of life as well as his gait. Father was an avid advocate of pro-life issues. Although billed as mysteries, his two published novels, Father, Forgive Them and Cold Case dealt with issues pertinent to the sanctity of human life. A frequent presider at Holy Spirit Parish in Tempe, Father was beloved by people of the parish. Visitation will be held at the Brophy Chapel from 3:00 PM until 5:00 PM on Sunday, January 27. It will conclude with a prayer service at 5:00 PM. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 4715 N. Central Avenue, on Monday, January 28, at 10:00 AM. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Brophy College Preparatory, 4701 N. Central Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85012.

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Published in The Arizona Republic from Jan. 24 to Jan. 27, 2008.
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38 entries
April 29, 2008
I was saddened to hear of the passing of both Fr. Becker and Fr. Growney. It was those two along with Fr. Sauer who enlightened me to the joys of language and history. For Fr. Becker, with his ability to encourage my writing skills, I will always be grateful. To all three, I say thank you. May the souls of Fr. Becker and Fr. Growney rest in peace always.
John Fouts '76
March 2, 2008
I just found out that Fr. died. Despite the fact that I haven't heard from him as regularly we still kept in touch. To say that I will miss him would be a huge understatement. Fr. Becker was probably the most loyal and best friend I ever had or will have in this life. I am a Little Sister of the Poor and got to know Fr. before I joined the Congregation. In the last 23 years he has always been a support - like above and beyond the call of duty...always redirecting me to the Lord and His love but he had this incredible gift for being able to tell me in ways that no one else could how much God loved me and because it was him I believed him. He also had a gift for being able to say what I needed to hear in such a way that I knew he was saying it because he cared and I never felt put down. He would give me wise and sound advice and always encourage me in my vocation and reassure me that God was pleased with what I was doing. He shared his ups and downs as I shared mine with him and how the Lord had brought him through those ups and downs. He was a real gift. A real blessing but you could never convince him of that.
He was so humble. And despite the fact that I was intimidated because he was an English teacher and my grammar has never been good he never made me feel bad about it and some how complimented me on how I wrote! He said he was just happy to hear from me! Which just goes to show how much virtue he had. I agree that he very faithfully lived his vows and that his life with the Lord was what motivated everything he did. He really believed in God's love...he really loved the Church and his vocation. He would visit my family for me. Once when I was going through a difficult time he came to see me to see if he could help. I will miss him so much but I know he'll be praying for us.
But I'm glad he went the way he did - because I know he wanted to die "with his boots on".
May he rest in God's wunnerful fabulous peace forever and ever until we meet again. Thank you Fr. Becker for everything. Make sure he knows Lord what a gift he was to me, to many. Thank you.
Sr. Diane Shelby
February 15, 2008
John Becker, S.J., or, as he signed his letters, Jay Argh Bee, Ess Jay, was a great teacher and a great priest.

He was always tough, always expected the best of me, and he did it in such a way that I didn't ever want to let him down. John Becker was a nearly perfect priest. Lots of guys keep the vows of chastity and obedience, but many have trouble with the poverty thing. They like nice clothes, etc. Fr. Becker lived all three vows to the fullest. He would always ride a bike instead of driving, when he could. And this was not some fancy bike he had bought or gotten donated -- it was one he cobbled together from castoffs. He was the one who would ride 50 miles down to San Jose to visit some Ignatian in the hospital, making it an adventure for all of us who went along. We'd ride down, visit the sick kid, and then go to Santa Clara for a swim. We trained it back to Daly City and then rode home from there. And when he said Mass, it was not a rote exercise, but as if he were saying it for the first, and last, time.

Father Becker's life reminds me of that great line uttered by Mr. Chips at the end of "Goodbye, Mr. Chips:

I thought I heard you saying it was a pity... pity I never had any children. But you're wrong. I have. Thousands of them. Thousands of them... and all boys.

I will always be a Beckermaniac.

Rest well, dear priest.
Michael Terry, S.I. Class of 1977
February 8, 2008
Fr. Becker was one of the most influential people in my life throughout high school, and I will always remember how he affected my life in and out of class and on the two Kairos retreats I was honored to go on with him.
Danny Lamas BCP '05
Danny Lamas
February 5, 2008
I will always remember the light and grace that surrounded him as he walked through the Brophy Mall. He constantly had a slight smile as though he could see something great and beautiful in the world every day. I have no doubt he did. A kind and blessed man, you are missed.

Joey B. BCP '05
Joey Brennan
February 1, 2008
While I never experienced Fr. Becker in the classroom, he still taught me quite a bit on a 1971 summer trip to Europe. He taught me patience and understanding (there were 16 graduated seniors on that trip,) art appreciation (he could tell you more about Rembrandt's "Night Watch" than any Dutch docent,) and the power of faith ("Hotel reservations???")

Now, as a high school English teacher, I still stand in awe of the amount of time and effort he put into his profession. (I would never ask for an extra class section instead of my prep period!)

I will remember Fr. Becker as a man who wore his heart on his sleeve where his love for God, the language and his students was visible to all. Thanks for those memories, Father, and the gift of yourself. You will be missed.
Vincent Leach
February 1, 2008
While I never experienced Fr. Becker in the classroom, he still taught me quite a bit on a 1971 summer trip to Europe. He taught me patience and understanding (there were 16 gratuated seniors on that trip,) art appreciation (he could tell you more about Rembrandt's "Night Watch" than any Dutch docent,) and the power of faith ("Hotel reservations???")

Now, as a high school English teacher, I still stand in awe of the amount of time and effort he put into his profession. (I would never ask for an extra class section instead of my prep period!)

I will remember Fr. Becker as a man who wore his heart on his sleeve where his love for God, the language and his students was visible to all. Thanks for those memories, Father, and the gift of yourself. You will be missed.
Vincent Leach
January 30, 2008
A and W candy root beer barrels, an inflatable yellow bananna, and the ability to make me think that somebody was interested in my opinion, especially if I could defend it. He was my best teacher. The world is a better place because he was in it. I hope I can live up to his example. Bene Father.
Robert Moore
January 29, 2008
I was blessed to be in Fr. Becker's religious studies class, where he took the Socratic method to places even Socrates never went. He moderated Inside SI when I served as publisher and taught us all to be cognizant of the power of the press. He drove me and nine other classmates around Europe for six weeks where I learned more than I had the previous four years. And he instilled in me a perverse love of puns and a desire to inflict this punishment on my own students. God bless you and thank you for all you have done!
Paul Totah
January 28, 2008
I have indelible memories of Fr. Becker as a teacher, priest and moderator of Inside S.I. when I served as editor: his custom of picking up the "wrong" book from a student's hands, sauntering over to the classroom window, opening the window and dropping the book . . . inside the room? outside the window? (none of us knew which till it happened)--all without his ever lifting his eyes from the book from which he was reading; the reverence with which he celebrated the Eucharist (though never missing an opportunity to insert a pun in his homily); and his elaborate plays on words in the classroom and the delight he took when we students reciprocated with our own outrageous efforts; to name a few. His influence on my education and my teaching has been immense.
Rest in peace, Fr. Becker
Mike Bergez
January 28, 2008
Look at how much the Lord can accomplish through the service of one faithful man.

Like so many here, Father Becker was greatly inspirational to me. His lessons on grammar, punctuation, usage and writing were invaluable to me, and I still employ forms of the "Father Becker-style" essay in writing. His wit and wisdom, however, are what I will miss the most. I count him the greatest teacher I ever had on any level and am grateful for his life and service.

God bless "Old Priest."
Tom Blodgett, Class of '82
January 28, 2008
Fr. Becker you will be missed on Sunday evenings at Holy Spirit, I do believe that God now has you "at his Beck and call"!! And don't forget to give a loud "AMEN"!
God bless you.
Barbara Steele
January 26, 2008
Fr. Becker was my sophomore English teacher and I have fond memories of his class. But my favorite memories of him are after graduating. I enjoyed chatting with him on Sundays when he presided the Mass at Holy Spirit Church. And I was blessed that he was the priest that officiated my wedding at Brophy Chapel (2005). When I learned he died I went to look at the pictures of him taken during my wedding. They can be found at (
I will greatly miss Father Becker.
EJP (BCP 94)
January 26, 2008
Thank you … to a tremendous teacher, to an exemplary Jesuit, to a good, faithful and holy priest, to a trusted, true and beloved friend over these many years, to a generous soul, especially with the gift of his time and attentive presence, to a consummate mentor, to an authentic witness to Jesus Christ and His unconditional and self-sacrificing love. And, yes, to a proficient punster! Thank you, Father John, for living an inspiring life of service to the Church that truly was always Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, for the greater glory of God. ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. Share your master's joy.’ ‘Come, you who are blessed by the Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ Father John, you will be truly missed. Pray for us who journey still, as we will pray for you, until we meet again. Josef

Joseph G. Leach, S.I. ‘75
Volkswagen Vagabonds, ‘75
Joseph G. Leach
January 26, 2008
Ironically, words fail me in describing Father Becker. His love of words, love of life, and--most of all--his love of God, were an inspiration by example. He truly lived the motto "Men for Others" and made me a better person for knowing him. The Dodge Dart, the Brown Bible, and the Round-Up are a pale memory in comparison to his profound kindness and humor. A loss for us, a gain for the loving arms of God.
Paul Smith BCP '84
January 26, 2008
John Walters
January 25, 2008
I am deeply saddened to hear of Father Becker's passing. I never had the pleasure of taking one of his classes but only ever heard good things from my fellow students about him. On behalf of myself, Karl Heideman ('03) and my grandfather, Ted Dettmer (Faculty from 1961 through 1986) I wish to send my heartfelt condolences to his family and to the Brophy community.
Karl Heideman
January 25, 2008
Father Becker was my most inspirational teacher who wins the award for the best use of humor in a teaching situation. He really cared for each and every student.

One of my many fond memories was the time that several students and I spent part of our summer vacation helping him to paint his classroom. A paint store had given him several mistinted and brightly colored cans of paint. Each wall was a separate bright color. An interior decorator would have been horrified but the walls complimented his humorous personality perfectly. Rest in Peace.
John Christian, BCP class of '81
John Christian
January 25, 2008
How ironic - I have been reading Fr. Becker's latest book when I got the email from Bill Bosque about his passing. When I get back to finishing the book, it brings a smile to my face because I can see Fr. right in front of my like it was yesterday.

As with others, Fr. Becker was an inspiration to me; the inagural trip to Europe (and the fun we had while poor Fr. dealt with his kidneystones), his passion for the English language, his brilliant way of dealing with teenage males and their pushing the envelope; his use of "hunh" instead of "huh" was all great. I'm sure he's up there correcting God's grammar right now. Rest in peace, Fr. Becker!
paul bishop
January 25, 2008
Personally, I had a roller coaster relationship with that particular English teacher, from the time I was a freshman learning strip-up and litho on Inside S.I., to being a student in his classes ("Fight me, fight me!), to traveling for 6 weeks in Europe, along with 18 other graduates during the summer of '77 as one of his 'Volkswagen Vagabonds. One of my favorite memories of Becker from that trip - the look of glee on John's face as he sped along the autobahn at high speed (well, as high speed as you can get in a Volkswagen Golf) as we desperately tried to make it to the airport in time for a flight back to the U.S.

I also helped him move all his stuff to Brophy, making that 13-hour trip in temperatures of 105 degrees, in an Econoline van with no air conditioning, You can cram a lot of puns into a 13-hour road trip.

Rest in peace, Fr. Becker.
Philip Gallegos
January 25, 2008
Fr. Becker exemplified the stated goals of a Brophy education: academic rigor, respect, and love. I am a better person for having known him.

Rest in Peace, Padre.
Greg Moore
January 25, 2008
The Cremation of Sam McGee, The Night Before Christmas, diagramming sentences, the "Brown Bible" are memories I'll never forget (still have the "Brown Bible" and often refer to it). His kindness, patience, and sense of humor were present daily in his lessons. A sneeze in class was quickly blessed with "stop that." I had the good fortune of visiting with Father last fall during the Brophy open house for hopeful 8th graders. As was his demeanor, he offered his advice to my son, "read and read often."
Father Becker you will be missed.
"There are strange things done in the midnight sun..."
January 25, 2008
Fr. Becker was a gifted instructor and brought out the best in his students. I took several classes with Fr. Becker at St. Ignatius (SI class of '75). I still consider him as THE instructor who made the greatest impact on my life. Rest in peace, Father, and thank you for making a difference.
Andre Urruty
January 25, 2008
Fr. Becker was a light so bright, he will shine on in our hearts on earth. Heaven will be brighter than ever. He often reminded the teens, "God's CRAZY about you!" during his Sunday night sermons at Holy Spirit. We will miss his engaging enthusiam.
Myra Z
January 25, 2008
I am very saddened. I was one of Father Becker's 1973 S.I. "Volkswagon Vagabonds" in Europe for 6 weeks, and had him for English all of my junior and senior year at S.I. I loved his way, and his puns (the "firefly in the rain" especially, and, "I'd be like all the fish in Paris if I did that for you . . . INSANE ! ! !" Never forget him folding an SF Chron into a paper hat to depict a character in Shakespeare during a senior English class at S.I. I loved him . . . mostly because he forgave me (Vagabnders '73 know why)
Will Hoss S.I. '73
January 24, 2008
I had Fr. Becker at Saint Ignatius, 1975-77.. He became one of my favorite teachers, because of his love for teaching, and his faith.
Anthony Proietti
January 24, 2008
Some memories:
--Road trips to Russian River in old Dodges
--JRB always scronging for equipment
--Trips to Hoss on Moss to get paper cutter blades sharpened
--Surprise but short visit at my wedding
--Extreme patience with student's transgressions
--2580 McAllister
Dan Bosque
January 24, 2008
Father taught me more about honesty an self worth (not to mention nomnitave absolutes) than any other teacher in my life. What a blessing he has been to me and the Brophy community.
Anthony Morice
January 24, 2008
As a teenage student in Fr. Becker's English class, I didn't understand why we had to memorize 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. As a parent, though, I now appreciate the joy it brings my daughter when I can still recite it from memory on Christmas Eve. I spoke to Fr. Becker last year to let him know that I finally got it and would be ever grateful for that gift, to which he replied that maybe he wasn't such a crazy old priest after all. May God bless you and grant the just rewards for a life well lived in service to others.
Peter Roderique BCP '81
January 24, 2008
Father will always hold a very dear place in my heart. He is without doubt one of the top 5 most inspirational people in my life. I’ll always remember Senior English, his counsel, Inside S.I. days, and being part of his six-week Europe trip after graduation.

If you ever needed his help he would say, "Like a firefly in the night, I'd be de-lighted!" (Great pun, Father!)

God bless all of you whose lives were touched by this remarkable man.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips, I simply cannot express how much you have meant to me.
Xavier Arce
January 24, 2008
Truly a wonderful man, perhaps the kindest I've ever met. He inspired me to learn how to learn probably more than anyone other than my own father. His interest in nurturing his students intellectual capability was most genuine.

When I needed him, he was there. Fr. B said the Mass or Rosary for my Mother/Brother/Father, I am forever indebted. Thank you Father.

Three things he loved most: satire, irony, and puns! Here is an excerpt fron an email he sent me last year:


Christ’s peace! Now, why would you send me a couple of pages of wonderful puns? You know I never bother with that sort of thing. But thank you. One or another will probably end up in novel number three. But not this one:

* Khakis: What you need to start the car in Boston.

I loved this man and will miss him like family.......because he was!

Mark Babington
January 24, 2008
What a gift we all had in Father Becker. A gift that we so valued when we opened it. A gift that only grew in value as we wore it through life. And now that it is threadbare and tattered, it is an absolute treasure. Short of our wives and children, it is quite possibly the rarest and most wonderful gift we have ever received.

Thank you, Father, for your generosity.
John Keane
January 24, 2008
Fr Becker was an extraordinary priest and gentleman: my son was struggling @ Brophy and he took personal time to assist and encourage him --- a key factor in his success. I found out he was like this with so many young men: it was his nature. A brilliant, profound, intelligent man, one of a kind. God bless you, servant of God.
January 24, 2008
Fr. Becker was a superb, inspirational teacher of not just English but life. His quiet command and wit remain a model for many of us from Saint
Jerry M. SI 1960
Jerry M.
January 24, 2008
During my time at Brophy, I was lucky enough to experience Fr. Becker's teaching and love of life not once but twice. He is a great man who has touched many lives including my own. He will be missed by the entire Brophy community. Thanks for everything Father.
Admiral Nelson
January 24, 2008
I never had Fr Becker as a teacher but he always said hello to me when I was a student at SI. Friendly guy who I admired and was well liked by the students at SI in the early 60s. RIP.
gene h
January 24, 2008
I was a student of Fr. Becker while he taught English at St. Ignatius in San Francisco. He was a great teacher, as he had the ability to inspire students to reach beyond their self imposed limits.
Tom Henning
January 23, 2008
Father Becker was one of the most beloved teachers in the history of Brophy Prep. He will without a doubt be missed by students, former students, and faculty alike. He was an absolutely wonderful man, with so much life and energy within him. For God has truly graced us with the soul of Fr. Becker upon this Earth, and I have been so blessed to know the man.
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