Periodically, journalists begin turning to favorite words and phrases with the regularity of Fed Ex packages heading to Memphis. Examples from recent years include eponymous, iconic and bespoke. Now, there’s true freshman, which, it turns out, means something other than the people we were in the fall of 1964. Or does it? Weren’t our roommates true freshmen? Sure, at age 21 and a former Marine, Larry “Monk” Forness appeared borderline at first, an outlier able to help the true sophomores of Zahm Hall obtain alcohol. But he soon fell into step as a true freshman acquiring knowledge with everyone else of the Norton Anthology and the schedule of buses from Barat or St. Xavier’s. Paul Stulgaitis, Jerry Maglio, Dick Bertel, all of us lived as true freshmen with access to a proper Gilbert’s wardrobe and timed payments. Brien Murphy, equally true, eschewed that look for a sweatshirt with sleeves ripped – or with Brien, bitten – off. Who were truer freshmen than Class President Tom Weyer, Tiger Schaeffer and Chuck Grable as they belly-flopped onto the icy mud of the North Quad? Open our heavily redacted yearbook to any headshot and remember the true freshmen squirting shaving cream beneath doors or getting excited about Ara: Gary Olney, Dave Vecchia, Tom Sherer, John Myers, Paul Widzowski. And what about the poor rectors – Father Matthew Miceli, CSC, and Father Robert Austgen, CSC, for example – who tried to ride herd over the likes of Charlie Schmitt and Brice Parker?
True freshmen must progress to become true sophomores. To their dying days, Chuck Wordell and Eddie Kurtz probably made it no farther than that. As for true juniors, maybe Thomas D. McCloskey, Jr., James Leger, Jr., Thomas L. Bush, Jr., Daniel W. Casey, Jr., Frank Chuck, Jr., and Robert Wildes, Jr. held that station, while Christopher Murphy III, William M. Dewey III and Joseph A. Schwartz III over-achieved.
True seniors are impossible to imagine. Impossible. Jeff Keyes’ liking for 4 pm dining only makes him fiscally prudent, ready for his long true sophomore phase. Even after a half century and some, who can think of one true senior? Senior Class President Mike Minton? Fred Ferlic? Thomas F. McKenna? Boyish John Flemming? Nope.
True is an apt word, just the same: true friendship, true spirt and heart, the Great 68. This includes true loss, the death of Dave Kabat at the end of 2018, shortly after a fall in Michiana led to a rousing reception in South Bend as physicians Fred Ferlic and Steve Anderson led a line of visiting well-wishers; Gene Cavanaugh, Joe Kernan, Bryan Dunigan, and Tom Cuggino.
On November 13, 2018, we also lost Dr. Jim Fticsar, USN (ret) of Chesapeake, VA.
Bob Ptak flew from FL and Brian Gormley from VA for Dave’s New Buffalo, MI funeral, where friends included Sheila and Tom Gibbs, Mary Ann and Tom McKenna, Mary Pat and Rock McKenna, Skip Strezlecki, John Walsh, Bridget and Pat Herald, Jean and Roger Guerin, Mary and Tom Weyer, Mary Lou and Dennis Toolan, and Patty McPartlin, while Dr. Rick McPartlin tended his own hospital patients. Where did Dave pick up the nickname Lunch? Bryan Dunigan explained: “Often times, Dave, who was manager of the Notre Dame baseball team, could not be located and the team would say he was ‘out to Lunch’”.
Gene Cavanaugh sent news of former Government Professor Donald Kommers’ death December 21, 2019 at Holy Cross Village. The South Bend Tribune obituary appears in a following post.
True also joins with service and brilliance. In a following blog item, read about (mandated) retiring Traverse City, MI Judge Tom Phillips and the wise programs he began for offenders, including drug addicts.
Joe Kernan’s health is not good but the impact of his government service and kindness is powerful. Matt Walsh and Joyce, Class President Tom Weyer and Mary will be among many classmates attending a March screening in South Bend of a PBS documentary about Joe’s life.
During the Christmas season, when Mike Obiala and Marilyn visited their DC daughter Julie, they had an evening of reunion with Ted Bratthauar, Tom Curtin, Mike Moore and their wives.
Tom Culcasi found levity in texts exchanged during Notre Dame’s game with Clemson: “Mike Moore, Tom Curtin, Tom Phillips and I have had a texting conversation going for a year now for each game. Mike starts the countdown by being the first to own and wear the year’s spirit shirt. He then gives us regular updates as to the start of the season. Mike stands and paces for the entire game unless he is at Tom Curtin’s house. There Curtin duck-tapes him to a chair until the end of the game. We start texting each other mid morning of game day with coaching tips etc. Moore is the eternal optimist–we could be down by 30 with 10 seconds on the clock and he still thinks we can win. The rest of us are not quite as positive.. The closer the game, the poorer we play, the more texts fly back and forth during the game. (Judy thinks we are worse than teenage girls with our texting, a feeling that Curtin’s wife also supports). We don’t have a name for our group yet, but it sure made the season even more fun. Almost like having 4 seats together in one of those fancy new skyboxes.”
Tom Fitzharris’s art secured another honor, presence in a January, 2019 show put on by the Blue Mountain Gallery Winter Show, Chelsea, NY.
Jim Schindler sent regrets from St. Louis about missing two reunions last year: the 50th and then the Marching Band’s fall reunion. You can imagine his year 2019 resolutions.
True or not, please send news and photos, epiphanies and fatwahs to Tom Figel, 1054 West North Shore, Apt 3E, Chicago, IL 60626, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 773-764-4898.