Two Brothers
Two Brothers

Two Brothers

This year, Dunrovin celebrates her "Diamond" Anniversary as a retreat center.  
To celebrate 60 years, this blog will highlight some of the people and stories that have made Dunrovin what it is.
If you have a story that you'd like to submit, please reach out to us at

A My Dunrovin Story, By Ronald Kelly, 2024: The following is a story about Brother Lawrence Walthers and brother Ron Kelly. Brother Lawrence served as Principal of Xavier High school and President of Dunrovin Retreat Center, among his other assignments. Ron Kelly, who introduced himself to me as brother Ron, met him along the way. This is that story:1

Bro. Larry, aka Bro. Peters, started an unknown bond between us back in 1963.  Orientation for new freshman to Xavier High School in Appleton, Wisconsin was to be held in the early winter months: January or February. It so happened that my ma, thinking it was orientation day, drove me to school. I went inside, but there were no persons around anywhere. Dead quiet. I went to the doors to see my ma driving down the road. The weather was cold, and lots of snow on the ground. Being a teenager back then, one didn’t dress all bundled up. As I pondered a walk home of 3 miles, a man came up to me. This man was the principal of Xavier High School. He was tall and wearing a black one-piece-type robe, and had light colored hair; he didn’t wear glasses. I later learned his name was Brother Peters. I explained my mistake as we walked the hallway to his office. Knowing I couldn’t get a ride, he offered me a neck scarf for the walk home. I don’t remember if I got his scarf back; I may have.

I think those years at Xavier and with Bro. Larry came to focus me in a good way, without knowing how he saw me.

By my sophomore year of high school, I was not a wild or mean youth, but I had learned how to joyride in other people’s cars from a friend of mine. Joyriding was nothing serious, but doing it too many times got me sent away for a year to the Green Bay Reformatory in 1965. 

I served one year, and left to start school again. I’m not sure what Xavier did, but I was able to start my senior year.  I did some schooling in prison, but sometimes I think the brothers gave me that credit. 

A new principal was now in charge of Xavier. How Bro. Larry and I managed to stay connected can be described as a spiritual bonding. I could sense it, yet can’t explain it, it was just there. This was the bond between myself and Brother Larry. 

I ended up getting married a year after graduation. In 1968, I enlisted in the Marine Corp to help me get some training. That didn’t pan out well as I received training that had no benefit for me at all. I left the Marine Corp (that’s a whole story by itself). It was 1970, and things turned upside down for me. Divorced with two kids and no good job, I ended up back in the reformatory for two more years. 

Bro. Larry, during these two years, ended up writing to me or sending me a card. I even had a surprise visit from him while in the reformatory. He sent me a layout of a piano, with keys and notes written on the layout. Something I could learn while being locked up. It didn’t pan out that I learned piano, but we stayed in touch through writing letters. About 6 months before my release in 1972, I went to a minimum farm camp. There, I was a milker; I milked cows. The prison farm was a small camp of about 20 guys, with staff. There were calves and bulls at the farm. One day I had a visit from Bro. Larry and Bro. Vincent Malham. What a surprise for me. I gave them a tour of the barn as they carefully walked through to avoid you-know-what.

I served out my time near the end of 1972 and started college in January of 1973 at University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. There, Bro. Larry and I stayed in contact by letters and an occasional visit whenever it could happen. I graduated May of 1977 from U.W. Stevens Point.

For whatever unexplained reason, Bro. Larry and I began a life’s journey together. He served in Minneapolis MN, St. Mary’s College in Winona, MN. (twice) Memphis, TN, and of course Dunrovin, and I ended up following him to his assigned places.  Going to see Bro. Larry was simple to me: anything in a four to five-hour drive. When too far to drive for a visit, a card or letter worked for staying in touch.

Bro. Larry recognized me as I am, an Oneida Indian. When we talked, it was simple. Not religion, just regular life and how we were a part of it.

Most of our time together was at St. Mary’s Winona, and Dunrovin. Many times I have stayed with the Brothers, sat with them, ate with them, and met with them. At one point, several brothers lived off campus at a house basically across the street from St. Mary’s termed the LSD house. Not the drug but Bro. Larry,  Bro. Stephson, and Bro. Damion.

brother Ron giving a sister a ride at Dunrovin Retreat Center

Coming to Winona was always a joy for me. Bro. Larry taught me racquetball and tennis. Once, I brought my boat up to Winona to go out on the Mississippi river for a ride and swim. The most enjoyable and memorable event was coming to Winona for the 4th of July parade, as Bro. Larry would play the steam organ (calliope). I started dancing at seven or eight years old, and have not stopped yet. I’d often ask Bro. Larry to do a boogie woogie for me when he was around the piano, and he shared it always with a big smile. And one of my favorite experiences was when he invited me to go on a paddlewheel boat excursion in Stillwater. Much of my togetherness with Bro. Larry was shared with my now wife Ricky.

Bro. Larry recognized me as I am, an Oneida Indian. When we talked it was simple. Not religion, just regular life and how we were a part of it. I was not brought up knowing I was Native. It took me some time to learn my family heritage… Simply put, I had a tough early life. Bro. Larry was probably the essence of a big brother figure to me.

My biggest interest is riding motorcycles. I started back in 1969 or 1970. Currently I have a 2014 street glide special. I don’t recall the year, but Dunrovin once had an order of sisters that stayed at Dunrovin, and cared for the place. On one occasion visiting Bro. Larry, I came up with Ricky on my 1990 HD Low Rider. And so I gave a couple of the sisters a motorcycle ride while they wore their habits through town. Such a joy for the sisters and for the locals who saw them.

As I learned from Bro. Larry, he also learned from me. I know Bro. Larry was concerned about how I was doing with my personal relationships, as I had different girlfriends he’s met. He never judged me, but supported me with the ups and downs I had in my life. When we talked he listened as I spoke about life outside that of being a brother. In certain ways I experienced many attributes of how and what the Christian Brothers were about. They were regular guys with a mission that they chose for themselves is the best way I can put it.

Bro. Larry fell ill, and there were times I wasn’t able to reach him. Those times were not good, and I wanted to be there to help. He didn’t say how he was doing too much health-wise, mostly down-played it so as to not worry me. Bro. Larry passed in 2002. Bro. Jerome called to tell me Bro. Larry had died. I took it hard is all I can say; I lost more than a friend. The funeral service was in the chapel on the school grounds of St. Mary’s, and the cemetery was on the way home for me. When the coffin was placed on the burial gurney and prayers were said, I went to the coffin and placed my hand upon it, and said goodbye silently, with good thoughts that we’d meet again. From that time I would find myself visiting Winona, MN and Dunrovin, just because I needed to.

Brother Larry on a 1998 Electric Glide Ultra Classic
  1. Written by Ronald Kelly. Edited by Catherine DeMarais. ↩︎