A Great Time with the Great ‘68
With Mike Burgener at home in California for a son’s visit, with Monk Forness occupied as part of the Homeland Security force, and with Brien Murphy approaching middle years, Notre Dame was able to breathe a sigh of relief as the wave of returning ND ’68 celebrants, more than 500 strong, flowed across the weekend as a wave and not a tsunami. In deference to Fred Ferlic, who led the South Bend classmates and other volunteers in reunion planning, the events took place in English. John O’Connor and Ralph Neas, who spoke on Watergate history and on the modern political climate, would have been captivating in any language. John’s history of former FBI agent Mark Felt and the Watergate events paid attention to the impact of investigative articles written by journalists Pat Collins and by Tom Condon. You can hear a recent BBC report about John and the long search for the identity of Mark Felt by clicking. Ralph Neas provided notes now available in a following post. Also on the blog in following posts are photos and the text of Father John Pearson’s class Mass sermon. A video of Lou Holtz’s Saturday night speech is here.
Guests new to the Great ’68 may have been startled by the legions of Toms, as if the reunion were a final scene from a remake of Spartacus, this time with Class President Tom Weyer in the role of Tomacus.
On the big screen of the reunion, no one loomed larger than Rocky Bleier, whose two performances of his one-man play excited universal praise. The popularity of the play plus the talent of Rocky the auctioneer added to the till of an immense class gift. Ka-ching! Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., was able to acknowledge a gift exceeding $56 million.
With the gift so sizable, there was neither a first nor a second collection at the class Mass concelebrated at Sacred Heart by classmates Father John Pearson, C.S.C. and Father John Sheehan, S.J. Bob Smith, a deacon, assisted and Michael Minton, class president our senior year, was a Eucharistic minister. Some saw Jeff Keyes and Bob Brady, now Naples, FL neighbors, watching from confessionals.
Bill Cleary met Lou Holtz at the Saturday night dinner, then said he could mark off an item on his bucket list. Lou replied, “You need to improve your bucket list!”
The reunion attendance produced a rarity the Chicagoans enjoyed as much as anyone else: they were outnumbered by classmates from lands beyond South Bend and Chicago. Former roommates Walt Moxham and Tom Brislin rolled in from upstate New York and Connecticut. Hawaiians Pat Furey and Mike Trombetta came. Paul Higgins, as ready for golf as he was in the past for other sport, came from Oregon with Jim Chapman. Jake Keenan came from Cambridge, MA. Brian Schanning and Susan, used to sailing the globe, had the sensation of moving about on dry land. Charlie Schmitt and Lynn combined the reunion with other Midwest stops. Jay Schwartz regaled a group that included Dave Martin’s wife Janis with Dave’s football exploits, including scoring his only touchdown on an intercepted pass in the 51-0 beat down of Southern Cal in Los Angeles in 1966, the week after the 10-10 tie in East Lansing. Dave believes his real estate career may be more memorable than his foray in the NFL. Ned Buchbinder organized a seminar for General Program classmates including Tom Fitzharris, Tom Durkin, Guy Faris, Tiger Schaefer, and Bob Heineman. Following the reunion, former Naval officer Mike Baroody and Muff drove to Lake Superior for a look at the nation’s watery northern frontier.
The Keenan troops were a strong presence. Joe Hale’s report runs deep into the blog, so don’t be content with what’s here in print: “Keenanites who attended the Reunion: Tom Voglewede and Dave Percio were both on my floor of Keenan. So were Dennis Dorratcague, Mike Woods, Rich Falvey, Rocky Bleier, Tom Culcasi, Gene “Skip” Schraeder, Bill Nungesser, Wayne Micek, Tom Phillips and Ted Bratthauar. The following had supper on Friday night at the Lasalle Grill: Ted Bratthauar and his wife Ann Benton (we all at her request called her “Benny”); Steve LaPlante and his wife Kathryn; Skip Schraeder and his wife Ellen; myself. Skip and Steve both served in the field artillery in Vietnam; they attended the Military Commemoration, and I sat by them.”
At the same ceremony, Joe Kernan received honors.
Chris Murphy and Carmi gave the reunion a rousing finish with a generous Sunday brunch thrown at their home for the entire class.
Neil Rogers, Rich Rogers, and Bob Santaloci were in a car driven eastward by Pat Demare when Pat reached the Indiana-Ohio border: “He managed to blow through the gate going at least 60 miles an hour. The gate itself took off for the nearest cornfield,” reported Neil.
Mike Hampsey, much remembered during the weekend, succumbed to heart ailments on June 4th. John Walsh and Charlie Schmitt will be among those giving the lifelong musician a musical memorial in Titusville, PA on August 12, 2018.
Keep getting together and keep sending news and photos to Tom Figel, 1054 West North Shore, Apt 3E, Chicago, IL 60626, tel. 312-223-9536, firstname.lastname@example.org.