RIP ND Hero, Ara (Fall 2017)

Oct 01, 2017

We were on hand for the birth of the Era of Ara, which officially began on that snowy early winter afternoon in 1963 on the porch of Sorin Hall. He was a true giant, coach, mentor, motivator, compassionate advocate, father, grandfather and Notre Dame man. I consider it a blessing and honor to have played for Ara during his initial two years under the Dome. It was also special to have been at his 90th birthday celebration and to have conversed and spent time with him in June 2015 when he was alert and purposeful as ever.  God bless Ara and his family.

Judy and Rich Sauget were on campus from the St. Louis area for the services memorializing Ara and reported that they were powerful and fitting. I ran into Dick Martiny at the ND Club of Maryland’s UND Night in early May. He was hale and hearty, but was nosed out in the last Alumni Board election. Dick still serves on the Senior Alumni Board. The good news is that he helped recruit Mike Boone, our mate from the Denver area, to also serve on the Senior Alumni Board.

I reconnected with Frank Mackie by email. He is living in south Florida, where he spent one of his careers in the import/distribution business and the other in community development. He is semi-retired and remains most proud of his six kids and 13 grandchildren. Two of his sons went to ND, along with a daughter-in-law and one grandson, thus far.

I spent a few hours on the links up Martha’s Vineyard way in July with Luke McGuinness, who is enjoying retirement after a distinguished career leading a number of health care organizations. Mike Mooney chimed in recently with a note to Dean Planeaux, Jack Pavlic and others recalling his time in Vietnam, particularly in reference to the recent Budweiser commercial and the special bottle the company designed to commemorate our troops.

Bob Schmitt sent word that I managed to misspell the famous Jude Lenahan’s name in the last edition. Bob hung with Jude, John Berges, Pat Farrell and others of the Bengal Bouts fraternity. In his retirement, Bob is now leading tours, mostly won through charity auctions, of Jay Leno’s garage, which is filled with exotic cars.

Class president Cap Gagnon journeyed back to his home stomping ground in Gloucester MA for his 55th high school reunion. Along the way he had lunch in Boston with Mike Rush, who is still teaching business at BC. Cap said that John Rahiya was planning a campus visit for the Georgia game and reminded that Don Snyder and Sheila were off to Belgium and the Netherlands, before taking a cruise.

Jack Gerken was also planning an ND visit for the Temple and UGA games and looked forward to seeing Ray Neihengen, Jerry Erbach, Dan Rooney and Harry Terhune. Don’t forget to check out Jack’s class website: 1966.undclass.org. I also heard through Jim Starshak in Chicago from Don Umhofer, who spent his career in the law in California, where he served as a municipal court judge and later a superior court judge. Don and Betsy live in San Luis Obispo and he fills in as a judge throughout the state.

Bill Harrigan sent the sad news of his wife Cathy’s passing after 50 years of marriage. They have four adopted kids. Also I just heard from Bill Seidensticker from Pinehurst NC of the sudden passing in May of Pat Simpson, his life-long friend and ND classmate. Pat had a successful career in manufacturing before retiring to Pinehurst in 1999. Pat and Cheryl were married for 52 years and have three children. Bill is an orthopedic surgeon and played a lot of golf with Pat. I also heard from Charlie O’Brien, retired trash magnate who lives north of Baltimore. He was heading in for minor surgery and we are hoping to get together in the near term.

As you consider year-end giving, don’t forget the Duranko Fund at ND, which our class initiated. The progress report by the Athletic Department staff in assessing and addressing concussion-related issues among ND athletes has been significant. The fund is being expended in positive fashion and needs replenishment. I expect to be on campus for the USC game. Fini for this issue. Keep me posted on developments.


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