Nicholas W. Walton was born in Brooklyn on July 1, 1909 to Irish-born parents, James Walton and Katherine Greevy. He attended St. Augustine's parish school. In 8th Grade Walton's teacher, Brother Basil Connell (later Uncle Marty), peaked his interest in the Christian Brotherhood. After graduating from 8th grade in 1923, Nicholas entered the junior novitiate at Pocantico Hills. He moved on to the senior novitiate in the summer of 1926.
On September 7, 1926, Nicholas was invested with his religious habit (with Br. Basil as his sponser) and was given the name Br. Cyprian James. He received his habit with a total of 33 brothers that later referred to themselves as the Group of the Eucharistic King. The group included Br. Charles Henry, the first American Superior General, and Brs. Gabriel Costello, Gabriel Kane, Maurice Bowler, and Charles Baxter who would share community and jubilee celebrations with Brother James at Manhattan College.
After two years of scholasticate at Pocantico, in 1929 Brother James was assigned to St. Thomas the Apostle School in New York City to teach seventh and eighth grades. In 1932, with a BA degree from Manhattan College, he was sent to St. James/Bishop Loughlin High school (where he reunited with Br. Basil) to teach Religion, English, and Biology for two years. In 1934, he was appointed Principal of the School at Hillside in Troy, serving at the same time as Pro-Director of the young student Brothers who were assigned there to pursue their college studies in the Capital District area. From there, Brother James went in 1935 to St. Joseph's in Manchester, New Hampshire where he taught English and Biology, serving also as Senior Class Moderator and Sub-Director of the Brothers' Community.
In 1936, Br. James was granted an MA degree in English by Manhattan College. At 27, he had behind him alre4ady a wide experience teaching grade school and high school, a stint at responsibility for Brothers in formation and as Sub-Director of an active apostolic community. He was known to be a talented artist, an effective teacher, torn between his knowledge and love for English literature and his keen interest in biological science. The sclaes were tipped in favor of biology when Brother Celestine persuaded the supriors to assign Brother James to the Biology Department at Manhattan College.
In addition to full-time teaching at Manhattan, Br. James followed graduate courses in biology at Fordham University. UPon receiving his MS degree in 1939, he was promotied to the rank of Assistant Professor at Manhattan and then, upon receiving his doctorate from Fordham in 1944, he was promoted to Professor. In 1947, he was named to succeed Br. Celestine as head of the Biology Department, a post he filled until 1969.
As head of the Biology Department and Chair of the Premedical Advisory Committee, Br. James had the responsibility for guiding hundreds of young men aspiring to become doctors, either encouraging the most qualified to pursue such a career or discouraging those he deemed unlikely to succeed. His reputation for integrity among professional medical schools was such that an endorsement from Br. James was tantamount to acceptance. As moderation of the Mendelian Society, and by inaugurating research seminars for students and faculty, he encouraged undergraduate research long before support was available for such projects.
During his career, Br. James held memberships in the Entomological Society of America, the American Genetic Society, the American Society for the Advancement of Science, the New York Academy of Science, and the honor society Sigma Xi. In addition to a series of lab manuals that he authored for college students, Br. James was co-author with Brothers Gabriel Kane and Alfred Welch of a college textbook in Apologetics entitled "Foundations of Catholic Belief."
In 1969, after 23 years as epartmental chair, Br. James stepped down and was given a sabbatical year to pursue research in marine biology in the Bahamas as part of a profram he had earlier inaugurated in conjunction with the College of Mount St. Vincent. With residence in the Brothers' community in Miami, Br. James learned to drive and purchased a car that he continued to use upon his return to the college. His research continued during the summer months while he taught during the academic year until 1974 when he was forced to retire from full-time teaching at the age of 65. He was able to continue part-time teaching for some years thereafter as a Professorial Lecturer.
Eventually, Br. James reluctantly gave up teaching altogether and entered into full retirement. A model of how to grow old gracefully, he enjoyed the company of the Brothers' Community at Manhattan College and the title of Dean which the Brothers conferred upon him. Although beset with a variety of minor illnesses that occasionally landed him in the hospital, he remained always cheerful and faithful as well to the community prayer schedule, to meals, and the daily social. He held his own in the jovial banter, often raising his glass to toast the Brothers. As walking became more and more difficult, he profited gratefully from the attention of the nursing aides and in particular for the devoted assistance of Brother Aloysius Fitzgerald in getting him dressed in the morning and ready for bed at night. Finally, when it became clear the the community could no longer provide the care he needed, he agreed to go to DeLaSalle Hall in January 2003, after 67 years at Manhattan College.
- Luke Salm FSC