Class notes submitted July 27, 2017

Great then, great now

Coming into view: 50 Year Reunion

(While you read: hear Tom Dorsel’s song: Notre Dame football)

In the aftermath of every reunion, questions come: e.g., “Was Dave Martin there?” “Where does Steve Rechststeiner live these days?” This time around, with the benefit of 50 years of experience, we can learn the answers beforehand and avoid the post-reunion regret. Put the 50 year reunion, May 31-June 3, 2018 on your calendar. Pack your South Bend suitcase: one side for hot weather clothes, one side for the other type, and get in touch with people who are among the most important of your friends.

Finding other alumni is not hard. Notre Dame provides a site for finding addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and, many times, information about employers, spouses and the names of children. The website is You’ll need a username and password. On the mailing label of your Notre Dame Magazine is a number that will serve as your username (one you can change later). Once you have chosen a password to go with the username, you will notice “Find” at the right. Under “Find”, see “Alumni” and, from there, you are off to the races, ready to gather the contact information of friends from our class and from others. And if you have the illusion that a 50 year reunion is unimportant, speak to someone a year or two ahead of us about the experience.

Remember the advice of Eddie Kurtz: “No croakin’.”

Just in case some of us have lost a step during the five decades, the plans being made by Class President Tom Weyer and his committee make some accommodations. The climbing of the dome will occur during daylight hours. The rugby scrimmage will be five minutes shorter than the last time. To the disappointment of Mike Burgener and Joe Blake, there will be no South Bend Ironman competition during the weekend. Father John Sheehan, S.J, who has made his fashion mark at previous reunions, may be asked to design ceremonial garb for class officers; Father John is now pastor of a parish in Amman, Jordan. Chiseled Bill Cleary surely will be ready for dawn calisthenics at the shore of the lake: “Just won the Southeast Regional Handball Tournament (Doubles) in Chattanooga with my partner Rick Graham (Ann Arbor and U of M grad)”. In short, reunion excitement is in store.

(Bill Cleary with his handball partner Rick Graham)

Tom Dorsel, now retired from a career as a psychology professor, sent a link to a song he has written about the ND football team: Tom’s song. Think of Gordon Lightfoot and get ready to enjoy Tom’s humor. He also wrote another song in January, 2017 about Clemson’s national championship. Tom’s daughter graduated from Clemson, so he has what he terms “minimal loyalty”.

John O’Connor, who knew and represented Watergate’s Deep Throat Mark Felt, wrote an even-handed Hill blog article reflecting on former FBI Director James Comey and Mark Felt. See what John wrote.

Tom Loarie sent news of his former Alumni roommate Juan (John) Bolivar’s death during June, 2017:

“Many may remember John as the evening manager of the pool hall underneath the Huddle. John spent many years at United Technologies in senior roles then left to run his own business in Las Cruces, NM. John suffered from COPD. He leaves behind his wife, Susan, of thirty years and his sister, Christina, who attended St. Mary’s.” Tom is co-founder and CEO of Bryologyx as well as host of “The Mentors”,, a radio interview that airs each Saturday.

Dennis Lopez’s death in June, 2017, less than two years after publication of his book, “A Tradesman’s Tale”,, had friends reminiscing and mourning him in emails and poetry. Our blog,, has notes and poems posted.

Denny Lopez

Please send photos and news to: Tom Figel, 1054 West North Shore, Apt. 3E, Chicago, IL 60626, tel. 312-223-9536,

Tom Fitzharris painting at Met, NYC till September 20, 2017

Tom Fitzharris, whose painting has earned him appearances in numbers of galleries and, during summer, 2017, a place among artists invited to work together at the American Academy in Rome, has sent an invitation to view “Leaving Winter”, a work displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City:
Dear friends:
I have a painting in the Metropolitan Museum employee show. It’s up until September 20. (See image above of “Leaving Winter”.) Unfortunately, it’s not open to the public. You need an employee to get you in.  So if you’re going to the museum, let me know and I’ll see if I’m going to be there at the same time.

Dennis Lopez remembered July, 2017, a selection

Denny (Not one I wanted to write)

Returned to the ocean

the solace of grief,

erasing old footprints

of sorrow and joy.

Your wind driven grace

on the wave struck shore.



On May 27, 2017, at 11:56 AM, Louis MacKenzie wrote:

On the heels of Don’s and Betty’s moving words about Dennis and the sea, I am taken to those of France’s greatest poet, Charles Baudelaire, who opens his “Man and the Sea” with the following:

“Free man, always will you be drawn to the sea!

The sea is your mirror; you contemplate your soul

In the unceasing rolling of its waves […]

(my translation)

ps.I am sure you have all seen the piece Dennis wrote for Notre Dame Magazine last Spring. If not, here is the link:

Captain Electric

On Fri, May 26, 2017 at 1:37 PM, Elizabeth Doerr wrote:

No surprise you would choose the water’s edge to leave, sit in a beach chair with the roar of the waves your last sound. In Oregon you joked about selling the sand, just the right bottles, hipster typography. Coulda sold it at the Farmer’s Market and they would have bought it, you said. Wouldn’t even know that some things are free. Sometimes there’s no place left to go but the ocean.

On Fri, May 26, 2017 at 8:59 AM, Don Hynes <> wrote:

Bardo Time

It’s been three days now

as you pilot to the other side.

You took off like a rocket

but the soul slows down

to the speed of life

without a body.

You’ve got a lot to ponder

but plenty of time.

You didn’t want to say goodbye

but we all must, 

confused, distraught, 

and with tears to guide you.

You ran out of fuel

and there’s no way

you’d ride without style.

Not sure if there are bass guitars

or corvettes over there

but I feel you honing in

on the welcome you deserve.

You cut the board straight

and played the music,

laughed at all the fools

and kept time for the band

in your fearless register.

You can lay down arms brother

but the journey’s far from over.

10-4 good buddy.

Let’s stay in touch.

Don Hynes

John Flemming and Dennis Lopez

On Thu, May 25, 2017 at 9:06 PM, Joe Brennan wrote:

Denny’s Passing Shocked sadness An absence of joy The thought of never seeing, talking, joking again A bright light that shone for 50+years of friendship extinguished We all share the tragic loss Knowing the charm, wit, humor and humanity of our departed brother, May our shared memories sustain us thru this trying time Dennis, may you find peace I love you and miss you

I would like to include a poem that Donna wrote last night:

Inside Tears
within shrouded layers
of bewilderment and grief,
there is rendered
for the spirit
a balm, in the knowing
that a certain terrible suffering
has ended;
a balm,
luminous and completing:
a light
inside the tears.

d.m. thibodeaux
c. 2017

From: “Jack Lavelle”

We’re all poleaxed by this…this intolerable loss. I love reading how Dennis’ friends choose to share a few words. Mine are sad, of course:

For Dennis Lopez

His face is smeared in my memory, illumined by subway light.

I see him grinning through chicken-wire glass, the kind they use in emergency exits.

Our friendship was a kind of emergency exit.

We tried, but couldn’t be real friends.

We were both so confused, we tried to be so calculating.

We aimed conversation at each other, missing more often than not.

We were from the same place, sort of.

Our dads had been acquainted

Or so I was told.

Everything was at least arms-length.

Neither allowed anyone closer.

Jack Lavelle

From: Louis MacKenzie

“Un seul être vous manque et tout est dépeuplé (Lamartine). “One person is gone and the world is empty.” Denny was–and still is–one of those larger than life, almost mythic, souls. But larger than life sometimes is bruised and beaten by life. Maybe that’s what we mean by tragic. Our world is a paler place without “Lobo,” without his smile, his laugh from the depths, his zaniness, his music and, dare I say, his struggles. Peace be yours, my friend. Louis