ND Class of 1968 Contact: Thomas Figel, 312-223-9536 ext. 301
Moving to the Front of the Wagon
In The Time of Man, a novel Frank O’Malley gave his freshman class, a girl first appears in the back of a pioneer wagon. The book ends with the girl on a similar wagon, this time seated in front with her own children in the back. So are we progressing, it seems. There was a time when class notes were full of 2nd lieutenants, and then law school, and then the births of Brian Patricks and Megan Eileens. This time we are at the front of the wagon and we have friends to remember. To begin, your lunkhead secretary failed to report the Oct. 30, 2004 death of Phil Rathweg, the former student senator whose popularity grew each year he lived. “Phil was a class person and seemed to maintain a positive attitude despite his illness,” wrote Jim Hutchison. He then told the story of an encounter with Phil at a football game. Jim heard a familiar voice heckling him. “I looked around and did not see anyone that looked familiar. Finally I figured out that this guy made up to look like a clown was Phil Rathweg! He was sneaking into the game on a student ticket – it was really funny and totally uncharacteristic of him.” Steve Anderson wrote in April about Jim Bigham, who died suddenly after contracting a severe soft tissue streptococcal infection: “Jim was one of the better basketball players in our class and started on the Keenan Hall team that was the Interhall championship squad our freshman year. Despite a gait that earned him the nickname `Duck,’ he was an outstanding point guard. His widow Nancy can be reached at 15070 Plymouth Crossing, Plymouth MI 48170.” John Lee Conner, who was a marching band member and later earned a Notre Dame law degree, died on March 21 in Reno, NV. Mike Coleman wrote from Detroit of the loss of his wife Kathy in October, 2005; two of their four sons attended ND, including Kevin, who is captain of the Irish Guard. On April 28, John Noel died of prostate cancer at his home in Glen Ellyn, IL. In addition to his law practice, John was a DuPage County board member. Ned Buchbinder wrote from Milwaukee with memories of getting to know John when they worked together on their Fenwick High School newspaper in Oak Park, IL: “I recall how privileged he felt to talk with an editor of Downbeat Magazine…and to co-ordinate the ND Jazz festival. John was a good person, a man of talent who served others well. I am blessed to have known him.” On May 5, her birthday, Col. John Stephen’s widow Almira Stephens died in South Bend. Always sharing the Colonel’s affection for all of us, Mrs. Stephens was quiet, dignified and warm. “In heaven, my father will greet her with `What took you so long?’” said her daughter Elise Stephens Reeder. “And then he will add, `And put some lipstick on.’”
Ron Messina is recovering from hip replacement surgery in Chicago, where many are looking forward to Bryan Dunigan’s annual golf outing. Paul Dunn took some practice rounds with Eddie Haggar, Dave Boehnen, Bill Sweetman, Tom Roche, and Ken Collins during a four-day gathering at the Haggar home at Dorado Country Club in Palm Springs.
Class President Tom Weyer helped roast Rocky Bleier at a Pittsburgh event during April. The same weekend, while Pat Collins, Bob Brady, Bill Knapp, Dennis Gallagher and the rest of the Observer crowd attended the 40th anniversary celebration of the paper, we had dinner with Father David Burrell, Professor Ed Goerner and his wife Iris, and Professor Don Costello and his wife Christine. Father Burrell told of a time Lenny Joyce announced plans to burn down the ROTC building. “Come to my room at 10 p.m. and we can talk,” said Father Burrell, then rector of Morrissey Hall. When Lenny arrived, he found Col. John Stephens waiting, too. Col. Stephens told Lenny the act would land him in Leavenworth and the plan came to an end.
“All’s quiet on the Shenandoah,” wrote Dr. Christopher Manion, who is in Front Royal, VA and looking for his old banking colleagues Bill Kelly and Jim Loverde. Ken Howard sent Bryan Dunigan a link to Ken’s blog about his recent photography of sea lions: http://www.seaimages.org/log/ . On a global, underwater scale, Ken leads a Joe Blake life of adventure.
Please send news of your own adventures to: Tom Figel, 1054 West North Shore, Apt. 3-E, Chicago, IL 60626, 312-223-9536 ext. 301, firstname.lastname@example.org.