The Loyola School proudly honored retired coach and teacher J. Joseph Brune with the inaugural William J. Watters, S.J., Magis Award during a festive double celebration March 30. The event, hosted by The Loyola School Board of Trustees, also marked the kick-off of The Campaign for The Loyola School, a fundraising effort to raise $8.2 million to expand the school into five reconfigured rowhouses on Madison Street.
About 150 people attended the dinner and award program at the Engineers Club in Mount Vernon.
Coach Brune, as he is known by so many, retired after 35 years of coaching and teaching English from Loyola Blakefield, where he was head of the English Department for seven years and instrumental in many other activities other than athletics. After retiring in 2002, Brune volunteered and eventually joined the faculty at St. Ignatius Loyola Academy, where he taught English literature and public speaking.
“He made an amazing difference to the boys . . . He was always asking ‘what else can I do to help our boys become men,’ ” said Rev. William J. Watters, S.J., who presented the award bearing his name.
Magis is a Jesuit concept meaning more or greater. Particularly doing more for God and others. The award recognizes Coach Brune’s accomplishments as a teacher, coach, mentor, and role model. His has truly been a lifetime of service, a man for others in the Jesuit tradition.
“We were so blessed to be coached by Joe Brune,” said Kurt Schmoke, former Mayor of Baltimore and now president of the University of Baltimore. Schmoke played football and lacrosse for Coach Brune at City College High School, where he first taught and coached.
“Coach Brune stressed physical toughness, mental discipline and never give up and never give in,” said former Loyola Blakefield running back Bill Stromberg, Class of 1978, in one of several testimonials. As he and many others said, Coach Brune positively impacted thousands of lives on and off the football field, in and out of the classroom.
“Actually, the award means a great deal to me and to my family,” Brune said. “I appreciate all the nice things you said about me.” He added that teaching middle schoolers at St. Ignatius Academy was one of the “greatest experiences of my life.”
Among the guests were the presidents of Baltimore’s Jesuit institutions who joined Father Watters to raise a glass to Coach Brune , toasting him as “the embodiment of Jesuit character” They are Terry Sawyer, Loyola University Maryland; Bill Heiser, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School; Anthony Day, Loyola Blakefield; and John Ciccone, St. Ignatius Loyola Academy.
The evening also included the launch of The Campaign for The Loyola School, to pay for the construction underway on five rowhouses across from the church. They will be converted into 10 classrooms, a library, a chapel, an assembly hall, and more. Because of the generosity and commitment of the trustees and their guests, the campaign raised nearly $700,000 from the award dinner.
The campaign still needs $2.3 million, however, to pay for the construction, said Board President Joseph Lombard.
“Without you and without your support, we could not do what we are doing at The Loyola School,” said Father Watters.
The evening ended with a surprise announced by Father Watters: “It is my honor, too, to announce that Coach Brune will be further honored and remembered – with a classroom named for him, the J. Joseph Brune Classroom, in our new building.”
By Mary Maushard