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Remembering Roy Rohter, 1933 – 2018

Posted: February 2, 2018

Early in morning of January 9, 2018, Roy Rohter — a longtime friend and benefactor of Thomas Aquinas College — perished in a mudslide at his home in Montecito, California. His funeral Mass took place in the College’s Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel on Saturday, January 27. Below is the text and audio of the eulogy given by his son, Reev, as well as close-captioned audio of the funeral Mass homily, by Rev. Rhone Lillard, F.S.S.P. (’00). At the bottom of the page there is also a memorial video slideshow that played at the reception following the funeral.


Eulogy for Roy Rohter

By Reev Rohter
Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel
Thomas Aquinas College
January 27, 2018

First off, I would like to thank everyone here today. Everyone who has traveled to get here and those who could not attend yet sent their prayers. We would like to thank Michael Van Hecke for voicing amazing words to the press and allowing my father’s message for prayers to reach so far. I would like to thank Thomas Aquinas College and its President Michael McLean for their hospitality and help in honoring my father’s request to have the services in this beautiful chapel. I would like to thank my brother-in-law Jay Krautmann and a dear friend of mine, Brian Brunello, for braving the dangers that very early morning to be the first responders in searching for my father and rescuing my mother. Their actions will forever be remembered in my heart.

I would like to thank Bertha Arroyo for being part of our family for as long as I can remember and always taking care of my father and mother. I would also like to thank Molly Rosecrance for being a wonderful friend of my mother and father, and for helping my Dad work on the final stages of his memoirs, which he had just finished. The work was being done for his children and grandchildren, telling the story of his life and conversion. Interestingly the title of his memoir is called Sudden and Unexpected, which had been decided on by him a few months ago. But most of all, I would like to thank my incredible mother, for being the rock of this family. She is unsinkable, and through her unshakeable faith we all have found strength.

As recently as a few weeks ago, I was telling a story I had told many times to people about how my father used to say, “Reev, the older you get, the wiser I become.” And a few weeks ago, I said it took me until I was about 26 years old to think about that statement and realize how my father was trying to explain that listening to his age-based wisdom is better than me trying to make dumb mistakes on my own.

Even though I knew it at 26, and had a very good relationship with him, in fact even chose my own father to be the best man at my wedding — an honor in which some may have thought unconventional, but my father understood, and knew that he was in fact, my best friend. I knew he would give up the world for me and his family. The constant lessons and advice, though sometimes overbearing, were given out of love.

Almost 20 years since the day I realized he had been wise all along, he continues to show me more and more of his wisdom. It is difficult to think of a tragedy like this and how such a sudden and unexpected passing can be seen as a blessing or a chance to see the wisdom of a father. Yet now that he is gone, what he left us is something that I am just coming to realize is an amazing gift. Our father, in his wisdom, has been planning for this day for many years. He has had all of his funeral arrangements in place; he had set up the funeral home, pre-ordered the casket; the headstone was already in place; he chose to have his services two-three weeks after his passing so that family and friends would have time to prepare and make travel plans. He had even written his own obituary. I will grant you that my sisters and I had to make some slight changes.

Although his affairs were in order, he had no plans of dying. He was in great health, great shape and, regarding his mentally positive attitude, I’m not sure he had an equal. However, that did not stop him from the wisdom of preparing for this and taking the burden from his family. And for that I thank him.

His wisdom extended not just to his family but to many others, and I’m guessing this is one of the reasons why some of you are here. He did not hold back his wisdom and advice. Some of it may have been construed as opinions, and sometimes those were unsolicited. But he did not give that advice to others to show he was wise; he gave the advice and opinions because he cared. He wanted you to have what he had. He wanted you to share in his joy! His advice did many great things, from helping with financial advice, advice on raising children, bringing people back to the Church, to helping start a number of schools. All of it had a specific purpose, to bring souls to heaven. That was my dad’s thing…There is a poem from his own mother, from decades ago, which says ...

Reevie, my soul saving son
He is on his way - this son of mine.
He always accomplishes what he sets out to do,
because he is tenacious & inspired himself to be true.
If you save one soul as God’s word revealed,
you will go straight to Heaven. Your soul will be healed.
So Reevie my Son, I will be your first convert.
My soul you shall save, and you came just in time,
For I am lost in a cave.
I will follow you back, to the light I once knew,
to a life that is Holy, Just and True.

Your Proud Mom.

He took those words and acted on them. He took those words very seriously and lived his life for that purpose. Today I look out into this church and see the fruits of his work. There are people here from all over the country. There are people here from Saint Augustine Academy in Ventura, Saint Monica‘s Academy in Pasadena, and Faustina Academy in Irving, Texas — all of which he had a hand in starting. From Chicago, where he grew up, across the country to California, and possibly across the world, my father affected people. He influenced them, he created in them a sense of worth. People saw his smile. When they spoke to him, they felt he was listening. If you asked him how he was doing, he never said, “fine,” “OK,” or “good.” He said “terrific,” “fantastic,” and “great.”

He would say to me “if you are thoroughly interested in people, they will be thoroughly interested in you.” And he was very interested in you! He would ask you question after question, learning about you, listening to where you came from, listening to the story of your family. He wanted to know about you, and he would lock that away and his memory for the next time you met. That is what drew people to my father, and he used that to evangelize and influence.

As much as he did for myself, my family, and others, he did not ask of much of them. What I do know is, he asked for prayers for his soul when he passed. He would say to his grandchildren, “What are you gonna do when I die? And the answer had better be … ‘pray for you, Grandpa.’”

He prayed for others continuously, he prayed for the lost souls in Purgatory, he prayed for relatives, friends and random people whom others mentioned that had passed or needed prayers. He created email prayer chains to many members of holy orders, convents, and monasteries so intentions could be answered. He knew how important that was, and he faithfully prayed for those souls. But he always had a plan in place to make sure people prayed for him.

Initially, I think his plan was for just his family and friends to offer up Masses and say Rosaries for his soul. He had trained us and let us know his wishes for after his passing. The day my father would pass away, everything was in place for his family and friends to start the prayers. But something happened, strangely, maybe a reward in return for all the prayers he offered for others. My father suddenly became newsworthy. His picture was on the front page of newspapers; he was on the local news, and then the national news. Along with his picture was a request, “Pray for me.” And that request was answered. Instead of hundreds, it became thousands, possibly tens of thousands — who knows? In one fell swoop my father’s wishes to our family became a nationwide request. I am personally convinced that this was meant to be, and part of God’s amazing plan.

God rewarded his faithful servant with a passing that may have been sudden and unexpected, but it was noble and peaceful. Rita Bourbon, our friend and neighbor of almost 40 years who found my father, described him this way … “he was full, peaceful, beautiful face.” She continues … “he must have died instantly. And we honored him. And we knelt down and gave blessings, sent love to the family and whatever we could think to do to remember this beautiful man. My daughter rubbed his head and held his hand.” These words have given me incredible comfort, knowing that amidst the tragic events, he died peacefully.

It seems as though it could only happen this way. He was prepared … his life was in order, his family had been given the wisdom and faith to get through the difficult times ahead. He had fully completed the Divine Mercy Sunday events this last year, and he was incredibly excited about doing so. My father really only wanted one thing, and that was to get to heaven, through his prayer and the prayers of others. He used to say to me, “What I do best is multiply myself through others.” I do not know how anybody could have multiplied themselves through others as well as he just did. I know that the events of January 9, 2018, will be remembered as tragic, however, I am convinced, that these events were meant to be. They were meant to be, to show his wisdom, to teach us all a lesson in faith, to acknowledge God’s infinite wisdom and mercy. I am also convinced that on that day the Lord saw my father and said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant, enter here”. 

Lastly, I would like to say: I will miss you Dad. I will miss the almost daily phone calls, the video chats in which you had nothing to say but just wanted to see my face. I will miss our conversations about business, about my family, about my son’s NBA career, or my daughter’s ukulele concerts. I will miss walking into my office and hearing my phone ring, knowing you are waiting for me to finally get to work in the morning. Simple things you did that will be dearly missed.

You have left a legacy and some very large shoes for me to fill. I will do my best to carry that on. I can surely speak for my family when I say that we thank you for everything you unselfishly did for us. You will be missed, and we love you.

Eulogy: Streaming & downloadable audio

Homily: Streaming & downloadable audio / CC

Memorial Video Slideshow

Roy Rohter

Roy Rohter

Caleb Skvaril (’19)

“Learning from the great books, you can see the questions that history’s greatest thinkers have asked and all the ways that they have tried to answer them. You’re able to see what’s right about what they’re saying, but also what’s wrong. The more your opinion is challenged, the more you have to refine it in order to get closer to the truth.”

– Caleb Skvaril (’19)

Asan, Guam

“With an academic program as rigorous as Thomas Aquinas College’s, and with a long line of successful alumni, Thomas Aquinas College is essential to the health of our Church in the United States and beyond.”

– The Most Rev. Thomas Daly

Bishop of Spokane