Jesuit Father Gerald T. Regan died on Oct. 23, 2014. He was 83 years old, a Jesuit for 65 years, and a priest for 50 years.
Born on May 31, 1931, in Omaha, Nebraska, Fr. Regan attended grade school in Lansing, Michigan, Kansas City, Missouri, and Omaha, Nebraska, before attending Creighton Prep in Omaha, Nebraska. Upon graduating from high school, he entered the Society of Jesus at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Missouri in 1949. He completed studies expected of a Jesuit at St. Louis University and St. Mary’s College, and was ordained at the Church of the Gesu in Milwaukee on June 16, 1964. Fr. Regan made tertianship in Decatur, Illinois, and pronounced final vows on September 26, 1966.
During philosophy, he began work on a master’s degree in biology and, after ordination, earned a doctorate in zoology from the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas. In between—during theology studies at St. Mary’s College—the Jesuit community tapped this interest, appointing Fr. Regan to oversee its apiary. Except for the years during which he wrote his dissertation and taught biology at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, Fr. Regan spent his career at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, as professor and then professor emeritus. While there he moderated the Marine Biology Club. His research and study focused much on the impact of humans on ecosystems.
Fr. Regan shared his expertise in marine biology outside of the classroom as the Alabama representative of the Southeastern Marine Mammal Stranding Network. During his later years of teaching at Spring Hill, he was also chief scientist at the Marterra Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on research and development in the biotech field.
Those who knew Fr. Regan well easily recognized the value he placed on a structured life, as shown in his discipline as a researcher, interest in family and military history, and life in a religious order. Fr. Regan enjoyed exploring his family history and was particularly fascinated by his relation to a Union captain who drove General Sterling Price from northern Missouri. This fueled his interest in the Civil War: Fr. Regan attended conferences and reenactments, devoted time to his own research on the war, and was an active member of the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War. In his later years he enjoyed singing with the choir and occasionally entertained others with his harmonica.