And soon, The Grateful Dead
In early December, Jay Schwartz‘s modest, ever-encouraging father Joseph A. Schwartz, Jr. died in Maryland at the age of 93. As sad things often do, Mr. Schwartz’s funeral created a time to see and appreciate other friends while spending time with the children, grandchildren, cousins and friends of a man whose kindness and good advice flavored decades of Notre Dame experience. In fact, Jay’s eulogy centered on the impact of a Notre Dame football game played when Mr. Schwartz was 14. Losing to Ohio State as the end of the game loomed, Notre Dame came to life with a number of scores and finished as the victor. His father, Jay said, mentioned that game when Mr. Schwartz explained why Notre Dame should be Jay’s school. “Dad, it’s only a football game,” Jay said. “No, it’s not!” his father responded. “Those are people who don’t quit, don’t give up. Those are the kind of people you should be around.”
Our class is well-represented in the DC area with generous people. John McCoy, also present along with Pat Collins and Emily at Mr. Schwartz’s funeral, made me at home in the Annapolis waterfront condo across from the U.S. Naval Academy, all in strolling distance of as much history, coffee and ice cream as a body can absorb. Dennis Reeder and Elise, about to leave for granddaughter Kate’s music concert in Minneapolis, made their Alexandria, VA home the first stop. And on the way to Mr. Schwartz’s wake, the route led through Falls Church, VA, where John Schmelzer has his apartment.
John’s phone was out of order and, since the building’s directory is phone number-based, John was nearby but not reachable at first. However, like all ND 68 members, John is known to the ladies. Two in the lobby lit up at his name and soon delivered me to John, who lives in a large place that is still not able to encompass the expanse of his Notre Dame delight, his recall of class events, and his far-ranging interests. John is a very frequent correspondent but one whose letters always come marked “Private, not for public”. This means that we all have to wait for revelations that meanwhile remain confidential, whether they pertain to the mystery of Loch Ness, the disappearance of Judge Crater or the secret formula for Coke.
Another DC visit was with Mike Baroody and Muff, no doubt the liveliest great-grandparents (recently made) in our class. At an Alexandria, VA restaurant close to the parish school he once attended, Mike spoke of a time a restaurant proprietor made a black classmate leave. Within the span of our time, Mike observed, that boy’s color would be no barrier to the White House, just across the Potomac.
Meanwhile, back in Chicago, December remained busy. Bryan Dunigan filled his Oak Park house with the annual Christmas party attended by Dave Kabat, Dennis Toolan and Mary Lou, Tom Moore and Kathy, Ted Nugent, Matt Walsh, (Chicago cuz) Tom McKenna and Mary Pat, and Tom Gibbs and Sheila. Class President Tom Weyer and Mary were away but in touch. During January, Tom sent news that Rocky Bleier‘s mother, who had managed the bookkeeping for her son-in-law’s multi-million construction company till age 85 in California, died at age 92.
John Walsh and Dia, whose Evanston home is always at the center of class news and gatherings, spent a December Saturday night with John Flemming, in Chicago for exhibition of his leather sculpture and designs at a show. John learned that Brien Murphy‘s brother Turk died recently. Several years ahead of us, always much admired by Brien, Turk Murphy was a solid, friendly rugby giant living some of the time near a campus lake in his station wagon. John and Dia are now at the center of plans that began to form while the Walshes and other friends reflected on the two-year anniversary of Eddie Kurtz‘s death: a July, 2015 meeting in Chicago for the reunion of the Grateful Dead.
Jim O’Rourke, another center of correspondence, wrote after hearing from these: Tom Scully is now “somewhat” retired from the dialysis medical equipment industry, though he continues to consult. He and wife Debbie spend their winters in Florida and summers in Chicago. Tom Warner, retired as CEO of Del Monte Foods International, still hopes to remain involved as an executive in the food business. He and wife Mary live in Shaver Lake, California, though life occasionally takes them to London; Phuket, Thailand; Australia; or an olive farm they own in Tuscany. Tom and Mary generously donated a week’s stay in their Italian Villa near Florence as an auction prize for the Fischoff National Chamber Music Association at Notre Dame. (Pam O’Rourke is the Association’s Director of Education.) Pam and I are hoping to join them in Italy, perhaps later this year, The other stalwart I see around campus regularly is Rich Linting (of Linting Brown Ltd., Laguna Beach). He spends a week on campus every spring and again in the fall just before mid-semester break to teach an intensive, deep drive course on funding new ventures.
Please send news to: Tom Figel, 1054 West North Shore, Apt. 3-E, Chicago, IL 60626, tel. (office) 312-223-9536, firstname.lastname@example.org.