Thomas Bohen


Thomas Bohen, longtime St. Thomas business professor

  • Article by: SARAH LEMAGIE
  • Star Tribune
  • December 18, 2010 - 5:00 PM

A longtime professor at the University of St. Thomas, Thomas Bohen enjoyed teaching partly because it gave him a chance to show students that they could be both successful and ethical in business.

Before becoming a teacher, Bohen worked as a buyer for a department store in downtown St. Paul and started his own business selling women's coats and furs.

He changed careers partly because "he wasn't entirely comfortable with some of the ethics that he ran into in the business world," said one of his sons, Jim Bohen.

A moral man whose Catholic faith was central to his life, Tom Bohen was also very gentle, his children said.

"We really can't remember that he would ever get angry at us," Jim said. That doesn't mean Jim and his four siblings ran wild. "If you broke a window, you might have to learn how to glaze a window," he added.

Bohen died on Dec. 7 at age 94.

He met his wife, Carmela, when she moved into a house near his childhood home in St. Paul, Jim Bohen said. "She was 8 and he was 9 when they first met."

That doesn't mean it was love at first sight. Carmela had seven younger brothers who often played with the neighborhood kids in a vacant lot. "My mom had the job of coming out to call her brothers home for dinner, and my dad said he always hated to see her coming, because it meant the end of the ballgames," said Bohen's daughter, Patricia Rowley.

Bohen attended Cretin High School, where he was cadet colonel, class president and a varsity athlete. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame before serving in Europe and the Philippines during World War II.

Bohen and Carmela married in 1941. He settled down in St. Paul after leaving the Army, and started teaching at St. Thomas in 1958.

Bohen taught courses in marketing, finance and business ethics during a period of dramatic growth for his department at St. Thomas, his children said. He was named Professor of the Year in 1979 and served as department chair for many years before retiring in 1983.

As Bohen's department attracted more students over the years, he heard his share of resentful comments from teachers who thought the university focused too much on business and not enough on other fields, his children said. But Bohen believed strongly in the value of the liberal arts education his students got. "He thought it was absolutely essential that they be well-rounded," Rowley said.

Bohen was preceded in death by his wife and is survived by five children and numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and other relatives.

Services have been held.

Sarah Lemagie • 952-882-9016

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