The Pause for Coz

Richard Tillman Coz, S.J., touched the lives of thousands

When Fr. Richard T. Coz, 86, died of cancer on New Year's Eve at the Sacred Heart Jesuit Center in Los Gatos, he left behind numerous nieces and nephews—and generations of Broncos who mourn his loss. A funeral Mass was held on Jan. 6 in the Mission Church, with John Privett, S.J., presiding and 1,000 friends, family, and former students in attendance.

Born in Fresno on Aug. 24, 1924, Coz was raised in Alameda. He worked in defense plants in Oakland and Los Angeles, served in the Navy, and entered the Jesuit Novitiate at Los Gatos in 1947. He studied theology at Alma College in Los Gatos (now the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University) and was ordained to the priesthood in 1958.

Following doctoral studies in economics at the University of North Carolina, in 1963 Coz began a 32-year association with Santa Clara: as professor of economics and, later, director of the Studies Abroad program (1970–92) based in Durham, England. Students fondly remember his lessons in "Cozonomics" and the "law of supply and demand with pizza and beer."

In addition to being a popular teacher—he was named Business School Teacher of the Year in 1990—he was a counselor, a rugby and soccer enthusiast, a photographer, a friend and mentor, and the priest who officiated at hundreds of marriages and baptisms.

His former students were inspired to start the Pause for Coz scholarship program in 2007 (see following story). For last year's celebration, President Michael Engh, S.J., wrote to thank Coz: "You built long-lasting bonds with students and alumni that few can match. You inspired them in their studies and in their sports. And you have motivated them to do what we ask of all our graduates—to give back to the community in ways that serve others in need."

A true shepherd

With mourners gathered in the Mission Church, Fr. Coz's friend and colleague, Professor Emeritus of History Tim O'Keefe, noted that Coz "married my wife Julia and me, he blessed our first home, and he baptized our children here in the Mission Church." And, O'Keefe said, "Early in my career at Santa Clara, Fr. Coz gave me the best advice I ever received about teaching … 'When a student comes to see you,' he said, 'he comes to see you.'"

In words read at the Mass, Bucky Canales '80 described Coz as "loyal, caring, challenging, open to listening, forgiving, supportive, and a shepherd in the truest sense of the word. He kept an eye on his flock long after it had moved on to new pastures and was always there when we came home to seek comfort."

After retiring from university work in 1995, Coz returned to the high school classroom. He taught religion and business ethics at Brophy College Prep, Phoenix, followed by a nine-year association with De La Salle High School in Concord.

Steven Boyd Saum

The Pause for Coz—a way to honor a mentor and friend

During his three decades at SCU, Fr. Richard Coz served as mentor and friend to thousands of students. One of them was Steve Erbst '88. "You could go to him for help or advice," says Erbst, who regularly visited Coz at the Jesuit residence in Los Gatos, where the retired priest lived until he passed away in December. "He was that calming voice who was there when you needed him."

Some years out of school, Erbst found himself thinking about how he could give back to Santa Clara. "There hadn't been a scholarship in Fr. Coz's name, and he had recently retired," Erbst says, "so I thought it was a good time to do something."

The Pause for Coz campaign was born. With a list of 60 e-mail contacts, Erbst sent out word—and that word has spread: Over five years, the grassroots alumni giving endeavor has raised more than $570,000 and has offset the cost of tuition for half a dozen students. Erbst underscores that while he might have spearheaded the effort, it's been a tremendous collective endeavor involving hundreds of alumni.

Erbst says, "I want people to get involved because they have a connection with Coz. It's about the celebration of the man and the things he supported—club sports, student government, studies abroad." And, Erbst notes, the scholarship fund is still working toward its goal of $1 million.

This year, for the annual Pause for Coz Celebration, supporters will gather April 16 at Campo di Bocce in Los Gatos. A silent auction, raffle, food, and games are in store; and the new scholarship recipients will be introduced.

Fr. Coz had a powerful, transformative effect on so many lives, Erbst underscores—and that has inspired alumni to support the University as a way of paying tribute to his legacy. More than that, Erbst hopes that the Pause for Coz effort can serve as a kind of model: that it might inspire other alumni to honor the mentors at Santa Clara who have made such a difference in their lives.

Adam Breen

For more information on the Pause for Coz Endowed Scholarship or the annual celebration, visit or call 408-554-4981.


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