Class Notes submitted April 30, 2017

Then and Now, and All Between

When he moderated the April 21, 2017 journalism panel that lauched the 50 year celebration of The Observer‘s founding, Tom Condon began with the observation that “There is no now without a then.” Then the group of young journalists proceeded to a discussion meant to help a mostly student audience learn about chances and ways to enter today’s journalism. After that, what a “then” we and about 125 present and former Observer staff members celebrated. With John Twohey, Bob Anson, and Bill Giles present, our longtime champion Professor Donald Sniegowski refraining from clarifications, Professor Don Costello sending good wishes, and Pat Collins chiming in with a reflection sent before he headed to a family wedding he called a “no-cut” Philadelphia event, we roamed over our own storied histories as well as companion memories such as the time Brien Murphy opened a Sorin Hall door by ramming his unprotected head through a panel. We let it all hang out, some of us even risking caffeinated coffee during evening hours. It was that kind of weekend. At the Saturday night event that had our table looking like chaperones at a prom, one young speaker looked ahead to additional Observer reunions, maybe a 75th, for example. This brought laughter – from us and from those around us. But, that weekend and in following emails and conversations, all of us – Dennis Gallagher, John McCoy, Tom (Carmel, IN) McKenna, Jay Schwartz, Don Hynes, Tom Condon, Shaun Reynolds and the absent Bill Kelly and Tom Brislin – resolved to try, and to make use of other approaching celebrations.
As we anticipate the 50th reunion coming in June, 2018, the admonition of Eddie Kurtz holds true: “No croakin’.” There is no now without a then, and there is not much appreciation of then or now unless we are gathered for the celebrating. Let’s get the reunion on our calendars, buy the airline tickets, call the old friends, recruit the perennial no-shows (such as Dick Blumberg, John Alzamora, Pat Hermann, and Brian McTigue), change the hearing aid batteries, and build up a tolerance for nighttime cafein. The Great 68 needs full attendance, Philadelphia no-cut weddings and any foot booboos be damned.
Despite their austere, careful habits, Pat DeMare (now well on the mend), Tom Brislin (recovering from surgical correction of a broken neck after a fall) and Mike Hampsey, presently recovering from heart surgery, flirted with the “no croakin'” dictate. Let’s have no more of that.
During the same Observer reunion weekend, Class President Tom Weyer kept his distance from the journalists as well as the Blue-Gold game while he spent time with his St. Mary’s granddaughter, the popular blogger Shannon Weyer, and her lacrosse teammates. The team was trailing by three until Tom Condon‘s presence brought the score to even before Tom had to depart for an Observer dinner. Prior to the Blue-Gold exhibition, we had the benefit of some sharp analyses from Bryan Dunigan and Roger Guerin, assessments now available on our class blog,
Some reunion training is already in progress. The Naples and Bonita Springs, FL area has become a winter training center, with Will Dunfey and Joan (Waters), Roger Guerin, Bob Ptak, Chris Murphy, Paul Dunn, Jeff Keyes, and Bob Brady part of a big Notre Dame group from multiple classes. Bill Mordan and some friends tried out their own get-together: “In April 2017, ‘Traveling Irish’ Dave Brueggen (Mary), Mike Granger (Vicki), and Bill Mordan (Sue), plus eight other ’68 Alums and their spouses, cruised for two weeks around Australia and New Zealand, an Alumni Association Travel Program trip. Professor Bob Schmuhl ’70 and his wife, Judy, were hosts.” Mike Brennan traveled back in time, to memories of the rugby team’s Irish trip 50 years ago: e.g., Dick Carrigan‘s snatching of the Irish flag from the Irish Post Office, the Guiness brewery tour, and the Irish admiration for Bill “Wheels” Kenealy‘s sprints to the try line.
Tom Fitzharris is ready after a heady Italian experience during summer of 2017: “I was a Visiting Artist for four weeks at The American Academy in Rome. Given the writers, architects, archeologists , classical scholars et al: dinners were like General Program seminars.”
John Walsh and Dia, making their wandering way home to Evanston, IL from a winter in San Diego, stopped in the Santa Fe, NM area for a visit with Joe Brennan. The Brennans are selling their desert spread in order to return to northern California.
Don Hynes brought (and sold) many copies of his poetry book “The Irish Girl” at the Observer reunion. The reviews are enthusiastic, including one from a 90 year old Hynes aunt who celebrated her birthday at the racetrack with a daughter,  cigarettes and beer.
Awful news came through Bryan Dunigan: Chuck Kelsey‘s daughter, married mother of three, has died of cancer. The obituary (on the blog) is full of inspiring accomplishments and love. What a loss for Chuck, his family, and us.
Professor James S. O’Rourke has been named to direct Notre Dame’s business education program in the United Kingdom during Spring of 2018. In addition, Jim, who is Director of the Eugene D. Fanning Center for Business Communication, is stepping down. No quit in our classmate, author of 19 books, he will return to the faculty to teach.
As Bill Mordan has shown, emails from outside Chicago, even those with an Alabama inflection, can make it to the class notes. Please send news and photos for posting on the blog: Tom Figel, 1054 West North Shore, Apt.3E, Chicago, IL 60626, tel. 312-223-9536,, blog at