Jesuit Father Walter G. Nesbit died May 12, 2014, in St. Louis. He was 85 years old and a Jesuit for 67 years. Born in Belleville, Ill., on July 30, 1928, Fr. Nesbit entered the Society of Jesus at St. Stanislaus Seminary in Florissant, Mo., on Aug. 18, 1946. He completed a B.A. in Greek and a licentiate in philosophy at Saint Louis University in 1953. Fr. Nesbit taught Latin at Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, Mo., from 1953 to 1955. He completed an M.A. in Latin at Saint Louis University in 1956 and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology at St. Mary’s College in Kansas in 1960. He was ordained to the priesthood at St. Mary’s on June 16, 1959.
After tertianship in Decatur, Ill., Fr. Nesbit served on the editorial staff of America magazine from 1961 to 1963. He reviewed submissions and edited articles with a careful attention to detail. He then went to Marquette University in Milwaukee where he completed a Ph.D. in scriptural theology.
In 1966 Fr. Nesbit became a member of the theology faculty of Rockhurst University, a position he held for nearly 30 years. He worked to make his theology classes interesting and engaging, and the students appreciated his efforts. Before personal computers were common, he used a computer in the classroom to review and compare biblical texts. Fr. Nesbit’s expertise was also appreciated by the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph. In the early 1970s he helped design and teach an academic program for permanent deacons in the diocese.
In 1973, Fr. Nesbit took a leave from Rockhurst to become the executive director of the Priest Renewal Program, a program of retreats and workshops sponsored jointly by the Jesuits of the Missouri Province and a group of U.S. Bishops. After getting the program established, Fr. Nesbit returned to his faculty position at Rockhurst in 1975. Even so, he remained interested and engaged in retreats and pastoral ministry. He would often celebrate the Eucharist with communities of religious women and help with chaplain duties at hospitals. During the summer months he enjoyed directing retreats.
In 1994 Fr. Nesbit retired from full-time teaching and became an emeritus professor at Rockhurst. In 1999 he moved to St. Louis. For two years he served as a database manager at the provincial offices and later devoted his time to writing and editing projects. In 2010 he joined the Fusz Pavilion community where he continued to pray for the Church and the Society. Fr. Nesbit is survived by his brother Charles and his nephew Walter.
Memorial gifts may be made to the USA Central and Southern Province of the Society of Jesus at 4511 West Pine Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108 or through this website.