The University of San Francisco recently lost three longtime members of the USF community. Though each alumnus forged a unique connection to the university, each had a link to athletics and all remained committed to USF long after graduation.
Lou Batmale ’34
Lou Batmale ’34, a USF supporter and fixture at basketball games for decades, died Sept. 29. He was 97.
Batmale’s connection with USF began in 1930 when he began his USF basketball career. After graduation, he continued to support and take an interest in USF athletics. Batmale was inducted into the USF Athletic Hall of Fame in 1974.
“Through thick and thin, his support and passion for the University of San Francisco never wavered,” said USF Athletics Director Debra Gore-Mann.
After serving as president of the USF Alumni Association from 1966-67, Batmale spent eight years as a USF trustee. In 1994, he received the USF Alumnus of the Year award.
“He had a great love of USF and a great concern for the university,” said USF Chancellor John Lo Schiavo, S.J. “He also spoke his mind, speaking about things he thought we should do and where USF could improve. Because of that, he was a big contributor in that era of the university.”
Batmale served as president of City College of San Francisco and was later appointed chancellor of the San Francisco Community College District. A building on a City College campus was dedicated in his honor in 1979.
Burl Toler ’52
Burl Toler ’52, E ’56, E’ 63, MA ’66, a former USF football player, NFL official, and school administrator who broke through racial barriers throughout his life, died Aug. 16. He was 81.
A star lineman and linebacker, Toler was a member of USF’s historic 1951 unbeaten and untied football team that was ultimately not invited to a bowl game because it refused to leave behind its African American players, including Toler. After college, Toler became the first African American official in the National Football League and officiated at the 1980 Super Bowl. He was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.
Toler also was a beloved teacher and administrator in the San Francisco Unified School District. He served as the first African American secondary school principal in the district and had a public school renamed for him—the Burl A. Toler Middle School.
“Burl Toler was the paradigmatic ‘gentle giant’ who touched virtually every person who crossed his path,” said USF President Stephen A. Privett, S.J.
Toler remained connected to USF over the years, serving as a member of the USF Board of Trustees from 1987 to 1996 and receiving various university awards.
Robert Rossi Wall ’54
Robert Rossi Wall ’54, former physician to USF’s athletic teams and various religious groups, including the Jesuits, died July 18. He was 77.
For more than 50 years, Wall practiced family medicine. He loved being a physician and found fulfillment and purpose through his efforts to help others and guide them toward healing. He was known for caring for anyone and everyone who asked for his help and for always being on-call for his patients.
In addition to serving as the team doctor for many decades, Wall also took on various other roles—president of the Catholic Physician’s Guild, president of the San Francisco Family Practice Department at St. Mary’s Hospital, and physician for a number of religious groups, including the Jesuits. He also taught medical students at UCSF.
“There is no one who loved the Society of Jesus more than Bob Wall,” said USF President Stephen A. Privett, S.J. “His medical practice was an extension of Jesus’ mission of compassionate healing. Bob was a doctor who healed persons, not just cured symptoms.”
In April, Wall and two brothers, C. Allen and Richard, were honored as Alumni of the Year.