Brother Peter Buskens was as tough as an armadillo on the outside, but as soft as a feather pillow on the inside. In 1925, he began 33 years caring for his “poys” at Gonzaga. His career included a stint caring for the sick in the campus infirmary.
“Liberal applications of hot liniment to take out the soreness or talk of a generous purgative to cleanse the blood quickly convinced the ‘sick’ patient that class work was less hazardous than Brother’s solicitous care. But when a boy was really sick, Brother’s devotion was limitless,” wrote the Oregon Province Jesuit in 1963 upon his death. Br. Buskens later served as athletic moderator and property room manager, befriending nearly every student he encountered, making him perhaps the most sought-after person at alumni events.
The following are our readers’ reflections:
Bud Waggoner ’51 – Anyone still alive that had anything to do with athletics at Gonzaga knew the Bro. One-in-a-million guy. I don’t remember him being as dressed up as he is in the pic with the V-12 sailors. I remember him in a rumpled white shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Mainly behind the property cage.
Jack Stockton ’52 – I had a father/son relationship with Brother Buskens. He got my high school grades before my mother did. I worked for him every summer; once, he had a group of us out painting the old stadium, stenciling the seats. He thought I was too small to play football, so he put me to work as his property manager to pay for my tuition. I told him, “The other guys are getting $30 for their work and I’m just getting tuition.” He said, “Jack, the good Lord will pay you in time.” I never forgot that. He ruled the basement of the Administration Building (home to athletics) with an iron hand. I had the greatest respect for him. He was a very straight man, coming to the Jesuits from the Dutch Army. A very holy man. He had it all. He had a lot of influence on me, I’ll tell you that. I loved the man.
Don McAllister ’53 – That Zag is, of course, Brother Buskens! During my time at GU (1949-53), Brother Buskens would hand our mail to us as we entered the cafeteria. If he saw you in the hallways before a meal, he held up the number of fingers for the number of letters you had waiting.
John Donoghue ’57 – Great to see a photo of Brother Buskens. Great Zag and mentor of young students. He was challenged by Montana Club youth! He kept careful watch over occupants of the elevator in the Ad Building!
Lynn Schwartz ’63, ’64 – Brother Buskens was my favorite mailman. He pretty much knew all of us freshmen as we went to pick up our mail from home. In 1960, I had the pleasure of helping with his care in Sheridan, Oregon. He remembered me from Gonzaga. I thought he was a Saint then and I’m sure of it now.