In 1958, a young Jesuit came to SI and stayed for 20 years. Fr. John Becker, SJ, was a remarkable English teacher and Inside SI moderator known for his propensity for punning, his highly structured curriculum that became the department standard and his manner of inspiring students. Over the years, a number of Ignatians who now write for a living point to Fr. Becker as the man who convinced them they had talent worth pursuing. Dragonwings author Laurence Yep ’66, Frasier creator Peter Casey ’68 and Chronicle political reporter John Wildermuth ’69 are just three who praise Becker for giving them their start.
Fr. Becker was born in Oak Park, Illinois, and attended St. Philip’s in Chicago and St. Monica’s High School in Santa Monica before entering the Society on July 1, 1943. He earned a Master’s degree in English at Loyola University and has taught high school since 1950, at Bellarmine, SI (from 1958 to 1978) and Brophy. While at SI he moderated Inside SI (and taught students to print four-color magazines using a press in the basement of the school), taught English and religious studies and took students to Europe each summer, buying a Volkswagon van in Germany and touring for six weeks with 10 or so students who slept on the floors of Catholic school gymnasiums. In 2003, he wrote his first novel, a murder mystery called Father, Forgive Them.