Legacy of The Crusader


Adrian "Imai" Bates-Domingo

Chester Vause ’70 and Adrain Bates-Domingo ’18 pose next to the original “Fighting Crusader” Out side of the Bertram Hall main office.

Adrian "Imai" Bates-Domingo, Feature Writer/Editor

You wear it on your shirt, you wear it on your uniform, and you wear it on your helmet. The “Fighting Crusader” is one that is easily recognizable by all. The Crusader has just always sort of been around, but not many know how it came to be. In the beginning of the Fall semester 1966, a freshman steps out of the school library and sees masses of students walk through the hall with one phrase in his head, “The Fighting Freshman.” Chester Vause, 14 years old at the time, goes home and gets to work, drawing what would then become the face of our school.

I got the honor of interviewing Dr. Vause ‘70 to learn the story of our beloved Crusader for its 51st anniversary. We met outside of the Bertram Hall main office on the second floor, where his plaque hangs with the original drawing of the “Fighting Crusader”. Dr. Vause took me on small tour down memory lane to explain how the “Fighting Crusader” was created.

I drew it because I love it

— Chester Vause

Walking up the stairs to 3rd floor Bertram and arriving outside of the resource center, Dr. Vause expressed that after seeing the many students walk through the hallways, he wanted something for his class to identify with. Hence, how the phrase “Fighting Freshman” was planted in his head. Dr. Vause loves to draw, so when he got home to his table where his father and he drew and built paper airplanes, he had no problem coming up with the first version of the Crusader, which is what you see in the front of Bertram. The next day, Dr. Vause presented his drawing to his homeroom teacher, Bro. Edward Gomez ‘56, in Homeroom 24, and asked if it could be used for class shirts, or anything to represent ‘70. Bro. Gomez ‘56 gladly took the drawing and said, “Very good, let’s think about it.” As time passed, Dr. Vause waited for word if his drawing was going to be used, and to his surprise, he received a note saying to see the head football coach in his office.

In the 1966 football season, head coach Mr. Ron Marciel ’51 was not only a football coach, but also a counselor for the school, and so he had an office on 2nd floor Bertram. Dr. Vause did not play football, so it was confusing at first as to why coach Marciel would want to meet with him. When Dr. Vause got to his office, coach Marciel pulled out the drawing and asked if the “Fighting Crusader” could be used on the football team’s helmets! He also mentioned P.E. clothes and other items. Dr. Vause excitingly gave permission. And so, the next year, the Fall 1967 season, 50 years ago, white “Fighting Crusaders” with red outlines were printed and stuck on each of the football players’ helmets. This kick started what we have today.

Upon graduation, each class leaves something to remember it by, whether its donating bleachers, outdoor tables, or lockers. The class of 1970 was special, they had Chester Vause, and he drew “The Fighting Crusader.” That year, Dr. Vause and his fellow 1970 classmates gifted his drawing to Saint Louis School, for nothing in return, not even money. “It’s something that came out of me, as an inspiration”. He gave the Crusader to the school he loved, out of the kindness of his heart; and the rest is history. Over the years, the Crusader was slightly changed, but never losing it’s original meaning. With changes like pointed curves, position of the fists, and detail of the plume, we have the Crusader we see today. “It’s still got all the important ingredients, and it’s fine with me.”

I never asked for people to know that I did [drew] it

— Chester Vause

When initially drawing the Crusader, Dr. Vause had a little trouble on how to finish the mask/face part of it. The mask was left open to show that we as Crusaders are not hiding behind anything. He didn’t want it to be a cartoon, so drawing a face was out of the question. However, everyone has a nose, so opening the mask to show a slight profile is very special. Not any specific person is in the Crusader armor. Dr. Vause wanted anyone who looked at the Crusader to see themselves; that they can identify with it, calling it their own. The Crusader is for everyone. “In a sense, once I drew it, it was everybody else’s, it wasn’t mine anymore.” Dr. Vause explained that the cross where the mask attaches to the helmet has a hidden double meaning. Not only does it represent the Crusader, which literally means “one who bears the cross,” but also an allusion to our school seal, where a cross is the foundation of the circle. Finally, the fists are positioned the way they are to show the “fighting spirit” that we as Crusaders have.

After the story of the “Fighting Crusader”, Dr. Vause and I continued the interview in an office to “talk story”. We talked about his opinion on the slight changes to his original drawing, and although he wishes that his original drawing was the one kept for shirts and Saint Louis designs today, he is happy and proud of what he created for his alma mater. “I am very happy, very pleased, and very humbled.” To finish the interview, I asked Dr. Vause if he has any words of wisdom for another young man attending Saint Louis, “Sounds corny, but follow your dreams, your interests. If you have an interest in something, continue with it, and take it as far as you can. Because, why not? I followed it through, no one told me to draw this, it was an expression that came from inside of me.” “Saint Louis did that for me, they helped me develop that quality.”

Upon graduation, Chester Vause went to the University of Hawaii at Manoa as an undergraduate, then attended graduate school at Rutgers University (New Jersey), receiving his doctorate Ph.D. in physics. He then went to work at University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), and at NOAA in Seattle, finally returning home to be a physics professor at the University of Hawaii at Manoa; Dr. Vause is now on his 35th year there.

Whether you attend Saint Louis or not, the “Fighting Crusader” is something recognized by all, thanks to Dr. Chester Vause and his love for drawing and his school. So, the next time you pass his plaque in Bertram Hall, you’ll know not only the history, but the Legacy of The Fighting Crusader.

On behalf of Saint Louis School and all our alumni, we thank you Chester Vause ’70.

It was a gift from the heart, period

— Chester Vause