Class notes submitted July 21, 2019


There’s a rhythm of normalcy in the items of this report.

Yet, how abnormal is our normalcy.

When the death of a classmate is part of the news – and we have an instance in this report – the normalcy is stunning. Always, the guy we knew as the fellow down the hall, the former roommate, the Peace Corps volunteer or ROTC officer who went on to become the professor, the businessman, the husband, father, grandfather and vocal Notre Dame fan, this classmate inevitably and normally, also became the modest mainstay of his childrens’ Scout groups and sports teams, the maker of sandwiches for the parish ministry to the homeless, the neighborhood contributor, the guy whose death really is a loss.

Meanwhile, the living are living it up. Bill Matturo and his wife are enjoying the proximity of grandchildren in Sarasota, FL. Tom Gibbs and Sheila gathered Class President Tom Weyer and Mary, the McKenna cousins Tom with Mary Ann and Tom with Mary Pat, Tom Durkin and Janis, Rick McPartlin and Patty, Kathy McCann, Bryan Dunigan, Dennis Toolan and Mary Lou, Roger Guerin and Jean for a Les Turner fundraiser. Bob Denvir and Leslie chaperoned.

In Pittsburgh, Tom Weyer says, “Rocky Bleier is expanding his acting chops by playing a military judge in a professional Pittsburgh production of A Few Good Men this fall. He hopes for lots of rehearsal time, as he has spent 73 years prepping for his previous role.”

Tom Fitzharris, apparently not one for the golf course or the laziness of the beach, spent his July and August with two more New York City shows of his art work. Images are on the blog, Californian Tom Loarie is in the third year of co-hosting The Mentors Radio, which airs on the Salem Network Saturdays in California. It is available 24/7 via podcast after it airs. Among the show’s inspiring guests have been Notre Dame alumni.

Tom Fitzharris: Good Sign (2015) 16” x 20” OIl on canvas

In Florence, SC, Tom Dorsel, father of five, grandfather of 12, devoted one of his Citizen Courier columns to fatherhood. Proposing that appreciation focus on the young dads still at their work, Tom closed with “If grandparents’ day ever catches on, then maybe the veterans of past parenting will get one last hurrah, one last nod, one final pat on the back for their sometimes forgotten years of service.”

Even though his own news is sloppy seconds, a duplicate of what he supplied for his University of Chicago law classmates, Ralph Neas sent pleasing word about his health: with a lot of grit and family support, he is recovering from the recurrence of Guiellen Barre Syndrome. After 180 days of hospitalization, Ralph is at home in Maryland, walking and climbing stairs, eager to resume work on his political memoir, about his work when politics included bipartisan collaboration.

Jim Woods, in Milwaukee, is a daily encouragement to groups of fellow military veterans he visits. A Falls Church, VA lunch visit Dennis Reeder and I had with John Schmelzer bubbled with John’s stories of classmates he knew in Howard Hall and in the summer ROTC training at Ft. Riley, KS. Joe Hale, in an email found in full on the blog, praised the accomplishments of Houston lawyer-accountant-MBA Dave Zell and Chicago area marketer Tom Culcasi: “right after graduation, Tom married Judy Donofrio (SMC ’68.), made his career in medical product sales, and with Judy, raised three Notre Dame graduates: sons Philip and Dave and daughter Maria.”

Another fine note on the blog is Father John Sheehan, SJ’s reflection on the 1968 and 1969 50 year reunions he attended.

Attesting to the normalcy of our classmates’ abnormal impact on those around them, USAF Captain Alya R. Reed, an ND’12 alumna, sent this with the obituary of our classmate Patrick Sharp, who died May 11, 2019 in Las Vegas, NV: “Pat was the definition of a patriot and his influence was crucial to the development of many of our greatest Air Force weapon systems. Although he did not have any blood-relatives at the time of his death, he taught, coached, and mentored an incredible number of people in the defense of our nation, many of whom considered him family. He was also distinctly proud of his alma mater (as all of us are).” Pat’s obituary appears on the blog.

Please remember, too, Brian Sullivan, whose mother Lillian, known as Snooky, died in June, 2019 and Bill Weiler, the former Irish Guards captain whose wife Edith, a photographer, died in January, 2019. On the blog is an article Bill sent about Edith and her work.

Please send news and photos to Tom Figel, 1054 West North Shore, Apt 3E, Chicago, IL 60626, tel. 773-764-4898,, blog: Let me know if you need help finding and contacting a classmate.

Tom Fitzharris: Rome-Courtyard-12-2017-17inx14in-iink-conte-acrylic-watercolor-on-paper

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