This notice went out to the Saint Mary’s College High School community earlier this month, and has been shared here with permission.
John A. Sabatté Jr., loyal and beloved member of the Saint Mary’s College High school Class of 1936, passed away in Lafayette on Nov. 20 at the age of 95.
As one of the high school’s most generous and committed supporters virtually over the course of his entire life, John remained true to his alma mater, attending school events, the annual Golf Invitational, and most importantly, the Class of 1936 reunion held each Spring at the Saint Mary’s Brothers’ Residence, until his health precluded it only two years ago.
This remarkable class of gentlemen held their first reunion in 1937 at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco at a cost of $2.50 per person for the elegant dinner-dance. It was their class that initiated a formal alumni association at Saint Mary’s. Every year since graduation, except for two during World War II, the Class of 1936 continued the reunion tradition, and each year passed a now well-worn black velvet top hat for donations to the high school. One class member bought the hat from a man on a San Francisco street on his way to that first reunion in 1937.
John’s generosity of time, talent, and friendship with Saint Mary’s High, Saint Mary’s College, and the Christian Brothers was honored by the Brothers in 1984 when he was named an Affiliated Christian Brother, or AFSC – the highest honor the Brothers’ Order can bestow on a lay person. John and his extended family have given much to Saint Mary’s, as generous donors to every building and fundraising campaign, most recently to Brady Park and Cronin Hall, and as creators of two endowed scholarship funds for student tuition assistance. John and his wife, Donna, were active participants in the Saint Mary’s community for decades and are pictured above at the Saint Mary’s High 125th Anniversary Red & White Ball in February 1988. John served as a founding member of the Saint Mary’s High Board of Regents established in 1985.
John’s parents, John Sr. and Mary, both French immigrants, purchased the South Berkeley Creamery in 1910, which would later become the iconic Berkeley Farms Dairy. John Jr. was born in 1917 and as a youth, often joined his father and brothers on the Model T delivery truck that brought dairy goods to the grammar school, high school, and Brothers’ communities at Peralta Park. John served as President of Berkeley Farms for many years.
Alumni of the 1980s and 1990s will recall the Berkeley Farms ice cream sandwich treats each year on the first day of school and after the Founder’s Day Mass in May. It was John Sabatté and his family at Berkeley Farms who made that possible.
John was predeceased by Donna in 1995 and by Nannette, the youngest of his five daughters, who died this past August. He leaves many loving family members, including his nephews George, Class of 1955 and Jack, Class of 1957, who often made sure John was able to get to his class reunions and other school events. Sabatté alumni of the high school include three of John’s four brothers: George ’30, Frank ’32, and Remond ’41, and seven nephews: Donald ’50, Norman ’52, George ’55, Jack ’57, Gary ’60, Roger ’64, and Richard ’70.
The Saint Mary’s College High School community extends its deepest sympathies and heartfelt gratitude to the entire Sabatté family on the death of our remarkable alumnus and dearest friend, John Sabatté. May he rest in God’s peace.
Funeral services are pending.
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