November 27, 2012
St. John’s celebrates the life and mourns the passing of
Brother Augustine Towey, C.M., loyal and
distinguished alumnus, member of the Vincentian community, and
emeritus member of the University’s Board of Trustees. He
passed away on Thanksgiving at the age of 75.
Brother Augustine’s long relationship with St. John’s began more
than half a century ago when he was a student in St. John’s
College. Elected to Skull and Circle, he earned a Bachelor of Arts
in English and Philosophy in 1958 and remained at the University to
pursue a Master of Arts in Dramatic Literature, which he completed
in 1960. He subsequently received a Ph.D. in Theatre from New York
The theatre was to be his passion for all the years thereafter.
After serving as a faculty member at St. John’s and taking vows as
a Vincentian brother, Brother Augustine, in 1964, joined the
faculty of Niagara University, which, like St. John’s, was founded
and is sponsored by the Vincentian community. Here he carved out a
lifelong, illustrious career in the drama. He founded the
Theatre program at Niagara and, as noted in a Buffalo
News tribute, “built it into one of the most
prestigious undergraduate theater programs in the United
States.” He led the program for more than 40 years, until his
retirement in 2005. During that time, he directed more than 135
musical and dramatic productions, mentored hundreds of students who
went on to successful theatrical careers, and forged
professional collaborations and friendships with numerous
luminaries in the theatrical world, most notably John Kander and
the late Fred Ebb, the team responsible for famed musicals
“Chicago,” “Cabaret” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” He was also a
prolific writer and authored numerous plays, including one on St.
Vincent DePaul, and several volumes of poetry. He was included in
International Who’s Who in Poetry, Dictionary of
International Biography, andWho’s Who in
Entertainment and received numerous awards for his
contributions to the arts, particularly in western New York.
Brother Augustine joined the Board of Trustees of St. John’s in
1992 and served for more than a decade. He was Chair of the
Personnel Committee and held membership on the Executive,
Educational Policy, Educational Quality, and Student Life
Committees. His broad based experience as an academician, his
embodiment of the University’s Vincentian mission, and his wit and
personal warmth made him an effective and respected trustee. When
his service ended in 2005, he was named Trustee Emeritus.
St. John’s also conferred an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts upon
Information on his wake and funeral may be accessed here.