Brother Conrad Heiser, C.S.C. (1860-1936)
John Heiser was born in Sterling, Illinois and entered Holy Cross in 1876 when he was sixteen. Young though he was, his intellectual ability was soon recognized. He professed his final vows in Austin, Texas in 1887. After teaching for five years in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Indiana doctors declared that his case was hopeless and told him to prepare for death. His superior was not about to let this young and enthusiastic religious die and sent him to Austin, Texas where, with hard work and plenty of exercise, he managed to teach for another forty years. Brother Conrad had an old broken-down shot gun in his room at St. Edward’s College [now University] and told many students that “that gun helped me to regain and keep my health.” He became an avid hunter with a dead eye. He frequently regaled students with the story of bagging 250 doves on a single day’s hunt, which was enough food for 200 students and faculty for dinner. He also never failed to mention “that slaughter” was done long before the state legislature began to have regulations for the protection of wildlife.
There are no records of exactly what courses Brother Conrad taught at the college, yet he was esteemed as a teacher. During his 34 years at St. Edward’s his name became intimately bound up with the beginnings of Catholic education in Texas. When he left the university to return to Notre Dame, the following appeared in the St. Edward’s Echo: “The example set by Brother Conrad is one that any of us might follow. His was a life of service, dedicated wholly and entirely to the education of youth. Although he expected to live but a short time, he refused to remain idle. Those of us who had the pleasure of knowing him will not soon forget Brother Conrad. The gentle religious, with his flowing white beard, with his kind manner and his friendly greeting, was sincerely loved by all who knew him.”