Funeral Services for Patrick H. Lally, Longtime English Professor, Will be Held Nov. 8

Patrick H. Lally, 1932-2012

Patrick H. Lally, who taught English for most of his 37 years at St. Thomas, died Saturday, Nov. 3. Lally, 80, of St. Paul, is survived by his wife, Mary Ann, and sons John and Joe '86, and daughters Brigid Lally Gustafson and Jane Lally Montei '92.

A native of Green Bay, Wis., Lally earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English at the University of Notre Dame. At St. Thomas from 1960 to 1997, he primarily taught American literature, including the novel since WWII, and developed a course on sports literature. Lally also worked at the Management Center (now the Center for Business Excellence) in its early years, and served as assistant to Monsignor Terrence Murphy, president, for a year.

He also coached tennis. In spring 1974, his first season as tennis coach, a St. Thomas news release noted that the team’s spring trip to compete at four schools in Wisconsin would include a homecoming for the coach – competing at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The traveling team included one junior, four sophomores and two freshmen.

The news release noted, “The likeable Lally said his green group has one qualification to a man: Each of them can beat the coach. He describes himself as a ‘Sunday morning hacker’ and said he is operating this spring’s tennis schedule at St. Thomas on a budget 'about the size of a Sunday collection basket.’” He continued to coach tennis until the early 1980s.

In September 1991, Lally published an article in The Raker (a printed “forum for discussion at St. Thomas”) in which he reminisced about his years at St. Thomas.

“A reasonable amount of sentiment and a mild nostalgia pervade these early-morning thoughts as I sit here on the porch with black coffee and blacker cigar,” he wrote. “The blue-grey smoke wends its way toward the early morning light that flickers behind me in the east. My mind drifts to days of yore.”

His first semester (fall 1960) provided him a “curious teaching schedule, the first formal teaching schedule I ever had.” He taught four three-credit courses in Freshman Composition. Three met Monday-Wednesday-Friday, and the fourth met Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday. “(Yes, Virginia, we did have Saturday A.M. classes in those days),” he added.

His 1960-61 faculty contract as an instructor in English for nine months of teaching was “for a grand total of $4,600 spread out over the nine.”

Lally served under three university presidents: James Shannon, Terrence Murphy and Dennis Dease. Referring to Shannon and Murphy in The Raker, Lally wrote, “Each possesses gifts of generosity of spirit, quick intelligence, respect for learning, integrity, wit and capable management skills."

He noted many changes that took place during his years on campus, and that: “The students get younger every year, especially now that I’m teaching the children of some former students.”

“So from the porch on Portland Avenue in St. Paul, the sun now almost over the yardarm, I recall some of those early colleagues who gave me that early sense of a St. Thomas community,” Lally wrote in his concluding thoughts.

After naming dozens of colleagues, including many who had “passed to their rewards,” he turned his thoughts to the future: “And to those of us left to carry on, to those new faculty and staff, even to those yet to come: Keep the faith, and in the words of the poet – ‘Wake the happy words!’ May the good ship UST continue on its ‘journey toward fulfillment.’” (Journey Toward Fulfillment is a book about the history of the College of St. Thomas, published in 1986, written by Joseph B. Connors, an English Department colleague.)

An obituary and guest book can be viewed at

Visitation will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, at the Church of the Assumption, 51 W. Seventh St., St. Paul. Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 10 a.m.