Proud Refrain

Published: February 2005

A number of archival documents illuminate Thomas Heath’s long relationship with the University, including the following photographs, essays, and poems from Sub Turri, the Burns Library, and Boston College Magazine.

This excerpt from an article entitled “The war we fought” appeared in the Fall 1991 issue of Boston College Magazine. Heath’s recollections of writing “Proud Refrain” ran along with 42 other stories of Boston College alumni experiences during World War II.

Thomas Heath, OP, came to BC from Somerville, Massachusetts. His “Proud Refrain” became a classic in BC literary history. Fr. Heath joined the Dominican order shortly after graduation, and was ordained in 1950. Since 1980, Fr. Heath has been on missions in Africa.

I wrote the poem, as far as I can remember, on the kitchen table of my home in Somerville. I was a senior at BC that year, 1942-43, a pre-med student and editor of the Stylus, where the poem first appeared in the fall of 1942. I don’t think any one event inspired it; it overflowed from my love for BC and for my classmates, some of whom had already been called up, and most of whom soon would be.

No, I was not on a troop ship or on an island in the Pacific or on my way to the European theater. I was home. But I was, I suppose, living in spirit with the BC men of the Class of ’42, including my brother John, who served on submarines in the South China Sea. The poem just poured out.

@BC has been able to identify three of the students in this uncaptioned photo of The Stylus staff from the 1943 Sub Turri: Thomas Heath ’43 (seated, left), editor-in-chief, George McKinnon ’43 (seated, right), managing editor; and James Sweeney ’43 (standing, right), business manager. The masthead for the October 1942 Stylus in which “Proud Refrain” appeared also lists Christopher Myers, features editor, and Stephen Stavro ’44, photographer.

An autobiographical essay by Thomas Heath appeared in the Class of 1943 Golden Anniversary Report, which was published on the occasion of the class’s 50th reunion.

View Father Heath’s essay (PDF)

Thomas Heath’s poem “Proud Refrain” originally appeared in the October 1942 issue of The Stylus and was later produced as this 8 x 10″ poster featuring artwork by Bob Coyne (1898–1976), who drew sports cartoons for several Boston publications, including the Boston Post and the Herald-America.

This feature was posted on Thursday, February 17, 2005 and is filed under Alumni.
Writer: Jeanne C. Williams