Gathering in Sorrow
At a time she was dealing with her own cancer, Bob Brady’s wife Margaret said in Elise Stephens Reeder’s hearing that any gathering of people our age begins with “an organ recital.” This column is such a gathering. Friend to all – except, perhaps, slightly less a friend to Professor Frank O’Malley – Tom McCann died very suddenly in June after suffering a stroke.
The suddenness of this ebullient, seemingly healthy classmate’s passing intensified the sadness of the disparate, large group who came to his Oak Park, IL wake and then his funeral. Among the mourners, of course, were a legion of friends Tom knew at Notre Dame and before Notre Dame: Class President Tom Weyer and Mary, Dennis Toolan and Mary Lou, a roomful and then a nearby bar full. Tom Gibbs and Rick McPartlin knew Tom as “Wally” (because there were too many Toms) when they were classmates at Chicago’s Mt. Carmel High School. Mary Pat McKenna said that she and Tom “Rock” McKenna were to have been with Tom and his wife Kathleen Mary Drumm the night of the stroke. Sheila Gibbs and Tom Gibbs were also accustomed to being with Tom and Kathleen. And who were the other mourners? In the lines were women and men of many ages and types, their eyes red, tissues at their noses, their thoughts large and regretful as they waited for a last look and then a word with Tom’s wife and four children. At www.ndclass1968.com, our blog, you will find an obituary and comments. In short, after Peace Corps service, Tom was a social worker in the Cook County, IL healthcare system. And what of the Frank O’Malley tension? Catching sight of a Mr. O’Malley image at a reunion, Tom’s nostrils flared. “Him!” he said. “Him!” The Irish in Tom left him resentful of the ‘D’ he and partner Tom Etten received for their work as students in the Modern Catholic Writers class.
Well-known as a former bankruptcy judge and member of a prominent law firm, Joe was a father and grandfather who dealt for years with prostate cancer and with failing kidneys. “He finally had a transplant with a kidney donated by his youngest daughter, Jane,” wrote Mike Coleman. “He always said it was his loving wife Patty who kept him on the straight and narrow for all those years prior to the transplant.” Those who remember Louisville classmate John Fowler will understand something that must come with the Kentucky air: “It’s hard to think about all the good memories but know that Joe was great to be around as he had wonderful sense of humor and was fun to be with. He owned a box at Keeneland race track that was approximately two boxes from the finish line.” In addition to Mike and his wife Gloria, other classmates attending Joe’s funeral were Ken DiLaura and Michael Wolf and his wife Mary Bartlett, SMC68.
Then, at the end of July, came this alarming news from Pat DeMare’s daughter: “This past Tuesday morning (my father) entered the ER unable to walk and in severe pain. He was admitted, and brought to the ICU, where he has been until today (July 30). He still cannot walk and is still in severe pain. As of yesterday, we know he contracted a very bad bacteria that entered his whole system. Unfortunately after many tests he still does not know the source of the infection. Now, he is on dialysis.”
Please remember these classmates and their families in your prayers. Save some space for rejoicing with John Walsh and Dia about the birth of their grandson Declan James Walsh in New Orleans.
(At this point, running out of space, we leave the notes submitted for the printed magazine and, with the caution that some Fred Ferlic material is only suitable for mature audiences, we continue on the blog.)
(Following content for mature audiences)
Father John Pearson, C.S.C. completed decades of Notre Dame and St. Mary’s service at the end of June. Father John, a lawyer, was on the Notre Dame law school faculty before joining St. Mary’s as a counselor. He was about to begin a drive toward Arizona – by way of St. Louis and other places the change gave him time to see. Now in Phoenix, Father John is the chaplain at a residence for C.S.C. priests. John’s brother, a retired police chief, helps keep the home maintained. Before Father John began his drive, half a dozen of us met in South Bend at an Applebee’s where Monk Forness is known. You’d think that the presence of two C.S.C. religious – Brother John Paige, who is president of Holy Cross College, South Bend, and Father John as well as the former Indiana Governor Joe Kernan, local business celebrity Gene Cavanaugh and Homeland Security’s Monk Forness would have tempered Fred Ferlic’s behavior. And maybe it did. Just as Joe Kernan was about to launch into saying grace, Fred told of a prank pulled on a friend suffering from a pain in his hand. The assistants insisted that Dr. Ferlic required a full disrobing. The man, Fred’s friend, complied, only to have the door kicked open by a mocking Dr. Fred. Then, Fred told of being in the hospital shortly after Joe Kernan had been operated on for a bad hip. Attended by a young female intern, Fred was solicitous. “How are you doing, Joe?” he asked. Joe replied that he was fine except for the incision on his rear end. Fred pulled the Governor’s gown away for a look and turned to the intern. “So, does the Governor have a nice ass?” he asked the red-faced young woman. Gene Cavanaugh confirmed that Fred really does leave the type of phone message Fred described. Ask Fred and Gene at the next tailgate. Don’t believe what Fred says about disrobing; after all, he is retired now.
Tom Fitzharris’ talent as a painter earned him another accolade during July. The Heliker LaHotan Foundation on Cranberry Island off the north coast of Maine awarded Tom an artist’s residency.
As a nearby blog post shows, Pete Farrell retired with the same grace he exhibited during his successful track coaching career at Princeton University. Please read the report and be proud. Ken Howard’s note? “Pete was Best Man at my wedding for a reason—he really is.”
Kevin Daly and Helena told friends at John Walsh and Dia’s July 4th party in Evanston, IL that the Dalys will move to Ireland once they complete the sale of their home in Spring Grove, IL. Irish citizen Kevin and Helena have a daughter and grandchild in London.
Mike Hampsey’s Facebook peeps learned of Mike’s active June music schedule: “This Sat, June 25, at 3pm on the lawn of the Hotel Conneaut,Conneaut Lake Park, will feature The Hampsey Project with Matt Hampsey (Mike’s son) from New Orleans. I am grateful to Tom Challingsworth for putting this together. I will be part of a blues jam from 3-4pm that include my musical buds
from Meadville, and my eldest son Matt. Then from 4-5 pm Matt will sit in with the Go For Broke Band. Thank You, Lord.”
The tailgate parties of each football season are an excellent preparation for the approaching 50th reunion of our class. Under the shelter of the Great ‘68 flag, everyone is recognizable, unchanged, witty and welcome. Directions from Roger Guerin and from Bryan Dunigan are: “We are parked to the north and just east of Legends. Look for the large blue and white flag that says The Great ’68.” Remember to say thank you to hosts led by South Bend’s Gene Cavanaugh and Fred Ferlic.
Chris Murphy’s son Dillon Murphy (‘06) has begun a service that simplifies game-day travel from and to Chicago. Everything is detailed at www.IrishExpress.com.
Thanks to the hospitality of a string of classmates, Nancy and I had our personal Irish Express during July. In Alexandria, VA as well as the Ontario shore of the Ottawa River near Deep River, we had pampering from Dennis Reeder and Elise Stephens Reeder (SMC69). The Reeder’s DC circle includes Carol Ann Denison Dyer (SMC69), Pat Collins and Emily, Mike Baroody and Muff. We didn’t quite have time to solve all the problems of the world or to consume all the good things offered, so leaving Nancy at home with her Evanston Township High School work, three granddaughters and I will return before Labor Day. This trip will include hospitality from Jay Schwartz and Laura in Maryland.
The next visit should allow us to polish up some plans begun in July: a tailgate party at the Collins’ house and maybe a practice reunion in the Baltimore area. Another visit with John Schmelzer is likely, too. Even among us, John pays extraordinary attention to all things Notre Dame. If you can swap stories or jot a note, John will be an avid audience for you. His address is 200 North Maple Avenue, #611, Falls Church, VA 22046-4328.
Thanks to Ken Beirne, a request for help locating Pat Hermann turned up a happy Alabama resident, retired from the English faculty of the University of Alabama. Pat has replaced his Chicago accent.
Please see the posts that surround these class notes and others. The blog allows you to post comments. Or just send them and news to: Tom Figel, 1054 West North Shore, Apt 3E, Chicago, IL 60626, tel. 773-764-4898, firstname.lastname@example.org.