A funeral Mass for Marianist Brother Thomas Tessmer was celebrated March 20 in San Antonio. Brother Tom died March 13 at Marianist Residence Community in San Antonio. He was 81 and a Marianist for 62 years.
Brother Tom was a math teacher and assistant principal at Marianist high schools. In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, he taught math at St. Mary's, McBride and St. John Vianney high schools, specialized in computers on the support staff at Chaminade College Preparatory School and served in administration at the Marianist Apostolic Center (now the Marianist Retreat & Conference Center).
Born in Milwaukee, he entered the Marynook Novitiate at Galesville, Wis., in 1953 and professed first vows in 1954. He earned a bachelor's degree in math in 1957 at St. Mary's University in San Antonio and began teaching that autumn at St. Mary's High School in St. Louis. Brother Tom professed perpetual vows in 1959 and continued teaching at St. Mary's until 1964. He taught at McBride High School (1964-65), before returning to teach at St. Mary's High School for the next five years.
One of his geometry students was Marianist Father Ralph Siefert, who became the president of Chaminade.
"I remember him as being a good teacher," said Father Siefert, adding, "He didn't tolerate any foolishness from us."
In addition to teaching, Brother Tom served as a speech and debate moderator, and as a coach of football, track and cross country. Over the summers, he worked toward a master's degree at the University of Dayton.
After a two-year stint teaching in Milwaukee, he came back to St. Louis as assistant principal and registrar at St. Mary's (1972-76), then returned to Milwaukee as an assistant principal at Thomas More High School. At about this time, he was diagnosed with a demyelinating disease, a disorder of the central nervous system.
Brother Tom taught for one year (1979-80) at Vianney, but was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He served in an administrative role at the Marianist Apostolic Center, then taught again in Fort Worth (1981-82) and at Vianney (1982-83). Later in 1983, Brother Tom moved to Chaminade and assisted with the school's computer operations.
In 1993, unable to walk safely because of MS, Brother Tom moved to St. Joseph Community, a health care facility in San Antonio, where he schooled visiting St. Mary's University students in chess.