ST. BONAVENTURE – By accompanying his grandfather on various construction sites, a young Jamie Peace joined the Saint-Bonaventure campus in the early 1960s. Peace coming from a family of master stonemasons and brick and mortar projects of the university at the time (Doyle Hall and the administration building) kept the teams busy, giving him a chance to watch the artisans at work.
By the time the Reilly Center and Shay-Loughlen Halls were being built under back-to-back construction contracts, Peace was old enough to move around on his own and curious enough to be reprimanded for wandering around the construction areas.
He also met the brothers and a long-standing bond was forged.
Peace grew up in Portville, the eldest of five children in a Catholic family. His maternal grandfather, Jack Rowe, was the founding partner of masonry contractors Stohr & Rowe in the mid-1930s. He and his uncles, his father, helped continue the business into the 1990s. But his close links with the university led him to make a career there.
For 43 years and 44 classes, Peace has worked in Saint-Bonaventure. It started out as a job and is now responsible for mail and reception.
“Bonaventure has been my life,” he said. “Now my family is truly a family of Bona brothers. “
His wife, Yvonne, worked at Saint-Bonaventure Convent for 22 years and now works in university ministries. Their daughter, Devon, and their son, Joe, joined her at work at the convent from birth until they were 3 years old each. Nowadays, the family often finds itself visiting the convent or welcoming the brothers for barbecues at their homes.
One brother whose memory will always stay with Peace is Father Gervase White, OFM, a 1951 alumnus who served 47 years in Saint-Bonaventure.
“Father Gervase baptized our two children and was celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in the chapel,” Peace said.
Father Gervase was also the one who had arranged a playpen and a cradle in Yvonne’s study at the convent for Devon and Joe. In fact, all of the brothers helped keep tabs on the children as their presence in the world was due to a lot of prayers from the brothers and 16 years of infertility treatment for Jamie and Yvonne.
“Brother Joe Reilly, Father Gervase’s vicar, prayed to Saint Gérard, the patron saint of motherhood,” Peace said. “Our son is named after him and the saint.”
During those early years, Peace would join his family and brothers for lunch and take the children with him for the mail. He tied them in a baby carrier, took the mail and left.
“You couldn’t do something like that today,” he said, his smile hinting at the fond memories that those mailings remain.
His bond with the brothers has only grown stronger over the years.
“Jamie has been one of the brothers’ most faithful and reliable companions and their mission over several decades,” said Father Xavier Seubert, OFM, Convent Guardian. “You can always count on his attention to detail and his diligence, even in the most difficult times and situations. “
These days, Peace is working hard to stay ahead of the increasing demands of the courier. While the use of stamps has declined, the number of packages has increased significantly. Sending diplomas, admission documents, fundraising and athletic tickets take up most of his time, even with improved automation.
“If you fall behind in that job, you don’t catch up,” Peace said, which is why he moves as soon as his feet hit the ground in the morning.
He’s on campus at 5:45 am Lunch is usually a quick 15-minute break, taken only when the morning mail is finished. He walks about 15 to 16 miles a day, averaging over 10,000 steps before noon. As for postal items, he estimates having delivered tens of thousands.
“I was very lucky,” he says. “In my position, I see and speak with everyone, from the president to the bottom. And I see students over the years, many of whom consult with me when they visit me after graduation.
His favorite spaces on campus include the Friary, built in 1986 by P&H Masonry, and Doyle’s Chapel.
“It is the most beautiful chapel, so elegant and yet so simple,” he said.
His father and an elderly mason from Germany built the altarpiece, which is the ornamental screen at the back of the altar, with materials imported from Italy.
He also enjoys the masonry of Francis Hall.
“These bricks are from the Hanley Brick Company founded in the 1800s in Bradford, Pa. They are powered by coal, which gives them that special coloring,” he said. “The Hanleys called it the ‘Bonaventure Mix’, and they made it especially for (President) Tom Plassmann.”
The bricks used for Doyle Hall and the administration building, he noted, are powered by gas. Each of the buildings features “cross sets” in the brick design.
“Being connected to Saint-Bonaventure has had a huge impact on my life,” said Peace. “I just try to do a good job every day, continuing what was started so long ago. What’s happening here today, with the many new university programs and improved learning spaces, everything is exciting. The dream continues and I am proud to be a part of it.