Friday, October 8, 2010

Lax resting place

I did find the Bob Lax's gravesite today, on a hill overlooking the St. Bonaventure University campus in Olean NY.  It is a simple small stone, flush with the ground, and reads:





Robert Lax 1915 + 2000

This is the view down the hill from his grave site:


  1. You might enjoy this this Merton site by someone who knew him personally:

  2. What a very sweet and honest accounting of Gethsemani and Fr. Louie. Thank you for writing and sharing this, Randy.

    I grew up in Bardstown and we spent a lot of time at Gethsemani during the 50s and 60s. My father, a local dairy man, would attend early morning Lauds and then Mass at Gethsemani and I would often go with him. I remember attending the ordination of one young monk, that my parents had somehow “sponsored”. There was a man named “Basel”, who was an ex-monk and who ended up working for my father for several years.

    I didn’t start reading Merton until 1968 – I was 18 and Merton had died – but it seems that I knew of Merton all of my life.

    Like you, I think that Merton was pointing the way toward a new way of knowing and living God. More contemplative, less Church-y. I like the word “apophatic” – a knowing by unknowing. I really liked the part of your story where you talk about being a question mark, without needing an answer. The need for finding your supports within yourself, rather than in external structures.

    Robert Lax, Merton’s mentor, seems to have somehow gotten it right as well.

  3. Hello Beth -

    I love these pics. I especially love the writing on Lax's gravestone regarding a "quiet landing."

    I guess that is what we all hope for.


  4. Thanks for stopping by, Brian. I spent part of that day with Paul Spaeth, the Lax archivist at St. Bonaventure. He agrees with me that Lax was Merton's mentor. I need to go back to indulge my Lax addiction some more. I also discovered the Lax cottage (about 5 miles outside of Olean) that was used by Lax, Merton, Ed Rice, Ad Reinhardt during the summers of 1939-40. I'm debating about whether or not to put that story and photos on this louie blog ... I probably will in the next few days.

  5. I'm glad to find these photos. I'm traveling through NY this weekend and will stop to pay respects to Mr. Lax. It looks to be a very large cemetery. Do you remember any specific directions that would help me narrow my search? Thank you so much.

  6. You know, David, I'm going to be passing through there tomorrow (Friday, July 6th) and I just might talk my husband into stopping by. It's just a little ways off of the highway.

    I was led there by Dr. Spaeth, but I think that I could find it again. It seems to me that it was about half way up the hill, and toward the Franciscan nuns place ...

    The 2nd photo looking over toward St. Bonaventure was taken right from the gravesite, so if you could find that view, you'd be pretty close. Sorry I'm not much more help in this. I'm starting to wonder if I could find it again...

  7. I will arrive there Saturday evening (staying at the Best Western) and will check back here before I head up to the cemetery. Also thinking about nosing around for the cottage on Sunday morning ... Btw, I live in Columbus, OH and have been retreating at Gethsemani every year since 1978 . . .

    1. David - here is an accounting of my search for the Lax cottage:

      Good luck! It can be quite the adventure. Southward out of Olean toward Rock City. I have a photo above of where you turn off the road. Basically, we had to keep our eyes on the radio tower (there's a radio tower in the back of the cottage).

    2. I mean to say, the photo is at the link.

      We will be coming back on Sunday, which may be when I'll talk my husband into stopping by Lax's gravesite.

    3. Found the grave site, your photo above helped a lot. Went searching for the cottage, but think I was at the wrong tower. When I came back to your photos, I saw a skinnier tower than the one I scouted near. Ran out of time. Next time I'm that way I'll try again.



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