Best of Times (Fall 2011)

Oct 01, 2011

For the 150-plus classmates and spouses who gathered on campus in early June for our 45th Reunion, the three days of reconnecting and reliving bygone days under the Dome and recounting life stories was as enjoyable and memorable experience.  Some highlights: being with the unparalleled ND supernumerary, Fr. Ted Hesburgh, who was as warm and erudite as ever and who mingled with us and addressed our Friday class dinner, staying for the entire affair, at age 94; catching up with former Irish grid teammates Nick Eddy, in from California, Judee and Rich Sauget from St. Louis, along with Arunas Vasys and Tom Talaga from Chi-town and Detroiters Herb & Ed Seymour; seeing others, including Mike Krach, Bruce Broemmel, John Berges and John Flatley; playing golf with Bill Loftus, Bob Brandt and new gramps Mike Rush; hearing trustees Bob Conway and Doug Ford share their perspectives on the University's academic and financial status and direction.  We have to be the only class with two trustees!  Another highlight was the tribute to our retiring in-house ND connection, Cappy Gagnon, who thankfully will continue to provide updates from campus, even in his dotage.  

Big Art Frigo was on hand from Chicago, joining Mark Gonring, Matt Boyle, John Lungren, Pete Riehm, Paul Sauer and "mountain man" Bob Plank, who arrived from Colorado with how oxygen tank in tow.  Retired Dr. Dave Worland, TV magnate of Augusta, GA, Barry Barth and South Bend local Pat Bauer were there.  Also attending were Chicago's Ray Neihengen, David "George" Rentschler, Dennis O'Toole, and John Phillips from DC.  Minch Lewis from Syracuse, Dr. John Wylie and more were with us and I will list them in future columns.  

We award special kudos for superb local arrangements to Ray Flynn, Pat Farrell, Joe Guiltinan and Cap Gagnon.  I heard that Pat Ryan in Buffalo was recently honored by his high school, St. Joe's Collegiate, and that Keith Manville is the new chair of the Custom House Maritime Museum Board in Newburyport, MA.  

Eddie Badaracco of Curacao wrote reporting that Louis "Lookie" Butot passes away.  Speaking of those who have passed on, I don't know the details, but Charlie Babst died in recent months.  Also on to his eternal reward is long-time South Bend native John Lentz, who died shortly after Reunion.  I had just seen him at the Monogram festivities on Thursday of Reunion.  John served as the official scorer at ND football games.  He was looking forward to his 40th season in that role.  I attended a memorial service at Loyola Academy in Wilmette, IL for Jim Phelan of Atlanta who had died this spring following a long battle with cancer.  Also there were Bill Breen, Greg Rust, Joe Robinson, John Flatley and Jamie Toohey.  It was a wonderful service for "Whipper."

Finally, the July passing of Pete Duranko was both a sad occasion and somewhat a blessing for "Diesel" and his family in Johnstown, following his epic 11-year battle with ALS.  We all knew and loved Pete as a giant of a man with an equally prodigious heart and spirit.  He projected playfulness and positivity, even as he struggled mightily with the disease.  I spoke with Pete by phone a number of times in recent years and he maintained his good humor, often while being sustained on a ventilator.  I understand his funeral service was exceptional and mates who attended included Jim Smith, Phil Sheridan, Bob Meeker and Nick Eddy.  Typically, Pete continued to think of how he might help others, even in death, donating his brain, spinal column and other tissue to Boston U for research relative to potential connections between repetitive head injury and motor neuron disease.  

Stay well and keep all of our recently deceased friends in your thoughts and prayers, and make a hard and fast commitment now to attend our 50th in less than five short years.

Tom 


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