Rev. Bernard J. S.J. COUGHLIN
1922 - 2020
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COUGHLIN, Rev. Bernard J., S.J.

Rev. Bernard J. (Barney) Coughlin, S.J., former President and Chancellor of Gonzaga University, died January 28, 2020 at Sacred Heart Jesuit Center, Los Gatos, at the age of 97. He was a Jesuit for 77 years and a priest for 64 years, mostly spent in teaching and university administration at St. Louis University and Gonzaga.

Fr. Coughlin was born in Galveston, Texas, on December 7, 1922, one of five children to Eugene and Marie Celeste Coughlin. He attended a Christian Brothers high school in Galveston, and briefly followed his father's footsteps working for the Santa Fe Railroad. He read about the Jesuits, felt drawn to them, and in 1942, he entered the Jesuit novitiate in Florissant, Missouri. His training took him to St. Louis University for philosophical studies and Campion Jesuit High School, Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, for a few years of teaching Latin and sociology. He then went on to St. Mary's College, Kansas, for theology, where he was ordained a Catholic priest in 1955. Graduate work was done at the University of Southern California (MA in social work, 1959), and finally at Brandeis University for a doctorate in social welfare. His dissertation was later published as Church and State in Social Welfare (Columbia University Press, 1965).

At St. Louis University, Fr. Coughlin taught and served as Dean of the School of Social Service, 1962-1974. In 1974, he was named President of Gonzaga University, Spokane, a position he held for 22 years. As its longest-serving President, he strengthened the university's finances and oversaw the expansion of the campus, both in buildings and enrollment. He was quite active in civic affairs and a member of the Chamber of Commerce. In 1996, he became the first Chancellor of Gonzaga, continuing his work with the greater community until he retired in 2016. His last years were spent in a ministry of prayer in Spokane and since 2017, at Los Gatos, where he welcomed a steady stream of friends and relatives.

A warm, friendly and gracious person, Fr. Coughlin was a man of many talents: noted scholar and writer as well as an accomplished fund-raiser and builder. He published a collection of addresses and essays in 2012 under the title, The Soul of a Nation. He was above all, a priest whose ministry affected many generations of Gonzaga University faculty, students, and alumni, as well as the wider community.

Fr. Coughlin was preceded in death by his parents Gene and Celeste, and his brothers Pat, of Topeka Kansas, Donald, of Chicago, and Larry, of Galveston. He is survived by his sister Marilyn Branda Wood, of Houston, and many nieces and nephews and other extended family.

Vigil will be 6:30pm on Thursday, February 20 St. Aloysius Church, 330 E. Boone. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11am on Friday, February 21 at St. Aloysius Church, reception to follow.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Jesuits West Province, P.O. Box 68, Los Gatos, CA 95031 or to Gonzaga University at

Online tributes at Arrangements have been entrusted to:

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Published in Spokesman-Review from Feb. 16 to Feb. 19, 2020.
Funeral Mass
11:00 AM
St. Aloysius Church
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1 entry
February 27, 2020
Father Couglin was a very kind and friendly Jesuit who greeted others with warm smiles,hand shakes, and open hugs. He was also a humble man who never forgot a face or a name, and always made others feel special. He loved to walk our GU neighborhood for exercise and stopped often to chat over the fence and spread his cheer to all those whom he encountered day to day. His positive presence that he shared with everyone will be greatly missed!
Kathleen and Elias Tsipras
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