Googled: Thomas Heath ’43, the poet heard round the world

Published: February 2005

Thomas R. Heath, a Dominican missionary who wrote the most celebrated poem ever authored by a Boston College graduate, died on January 13, 2005, from injuries inflicted during a robbery at his home in Kisumu, Kenya.

In the fall of 1942, the biology major published “Proud Refrain”—a hymn to Gasson Tower, written from the perspective of a soldier-graduate—in the University’s literary magazine The Stylus. Heath reflected in the fall 1991 issue of Boston College Magazine that the poem “overflowed from my love for BC and for my classmates, some of whom had already been called up.” The 1943 Sub Turri yearbook noted that “more than 1,600 from the alumni rolls have answered the country’s call to arms.” Eventually, an estimated 5,052 Boston College students served in the war. A native of Somerville, Massachusetts, the friar worked as a missionary in Kenya for 13 years, after 10 years in South Africa and Lesotho.

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