Class notes submitted April 14, 2021


When can we gather for a reunion? The frequency of the question shows how we long for the Great 68’s default state: full herd impunity, no Zoom link needed. Among irons in the fire is a plan from Fred Ferlic: if we meet during a weekend without a home game, there may be hotel advantages as well as access to some campus facilities. Pay attention to our blog,, where notice will appear when Class President Tom Weyer can give us the official word.

The need to remember and mourn five classmates reinforces the wish to see one another. The obituaries on the blog attest to men whose lives were reflective of Notre Dame ideals. Close to these friends? Please honor them by posting memories and thoughts on the class blog.  For example, Michael A. Habing of Indianapolis, who died December 9, 2020, was a member of Notre Dame’s rugby team.

Michael A. Habing

Paul Bekavec of Clairton, PA, who was Tom Weyer‘s Keenan Hall roommate and a popular dorm barber who had learned his technique while working at the family funeral home he soon inherited, died February 4, 2021: Ed Lewis remembers that haircut clients had to lie in a horizontal position for the trims. 

Paul Bekavec

 Stephen R. Cooke, Sr., holder of a Ph.D. in chemistry, died March 20, 2021 in Honeoye, NY; a note in his obituary is telling: “Due to Covid, the family will have a private ceremony, and those who knew him know Steve wouldn’t want the fuss anyway.”

Stephen R. Cooke, Sr.

University of Florida Professor Edward T. Dugan died January 24, 2021; read the recollections of former students and colleagues.  

Ed Dugan, center, with two colleagues

Charles J. Simons, Jr. died February 9, 2021 in Somerset, NJ. When Charles, known as Skip, took early retirement from Smith Barney because of his MS illness, he volunteered with a local food bank, a senior center and parish groups. 

Charles J. “Skip” Simons

Dan Collins has added to the class literature trove with his novel Future Victories, available on Amazon. The well-organized tale begins with discovery of documents that suggest, no matter the disintegration of the USSR, nuclear weapons await detonation in US cities. To the delight of Dan and other Keenan Hall classmates who meet on Zoom, Professor Charlie Stevenson, now retired in Australia, wrote War Stories, his memory of an unlikely three years of Army service in Germany.  Gerry Moore‘s stationing at the same post almost overlapped with Charlie’s. In mid-April the Keenan group was exchanging thoughts about a subject Charlie introduced: the way Australia and the US regulate firearms.  Len Niessen is one of the teammates who have published a collection of essays titled “God, Country, Notre Dame . . . and Lacrosse”. (Lulu Press) The writers are lacrosse teammates who went on to serve in the US military and Peace Corps: Marty Stoehr, Tom Kingston, Rich DiLorenzo, Bob Noonan, Len Niessen, Jerry Kammer ’71 and Dave Jurusik ’73.

Greg Strick‘s photos and memory of an artifact from the 1966 Michigan State game have been posted on the blog. The same game was the subject of a Tom Dorsel column written for a community newspaper in Hilton Head: Schwartz‘s blog One More Thing. . . keeps the pot stirred with reflections on subjects ranging from an imperiled French rooster to the renaming of San Francisco schools. Naples, FL winter residents Bob BradyJeff Keyes and Meg, Will Dunfey and Joan arranged for Pat Collins to discuss his book Newsman with that book group and guests Dennis GallagherDennis Reeder and Elise, Tom WeyerTom Figel and Nancy. 

Mark Kush and Marti, grandparents of 15, have met and hugged their first grandchild Sienna, tantalizingly nearby before vaccinations arrived.

Mark Kush with great granddaughter Sienna

On the other hand, the celebration of Rich and Neil Roger‘s January birthday was a Zoom event for the Eagle Lake crew (those who shared a senior year residence there): Mike Trombetta (whose daughter will be ND ’21), Bob Santaloci, Brian McManusDave GravesPat FureyMike Carroll, Pat DeMareMike Ryan, and John Murtagh, a Rogers cousin from ‘70.

Steve Grace manages real estate interests in Florida and Manhattan from his Palm Beach, FL residence. Steve keeps in contact with Ed Haggar , Paul Dunne, Ken CollinsBill Sweetman, and Dave Boehnen. They miss Tom Roach, who died in Fall, 2020. 

Despite the joy of living in Ft. Worth, TX near his son’s alma mater TCU, Fran Mentone laments that his previous AZ handicap has ballooned from six to 11. For some reason, he wants to have a ‘friendly game” with Mike Heaton and  Bill Cvengross ‘70. Longtime Texan Leo Welsh may be too busy helping California emigrants with their housing purchases. Says Leo: “My nextdoor Stamford neighbor, Larry Gruber, had a giant Texas flag on his wall. Being from western New York, I didn’t even know what the NY flag looked like. Having lived in Texas 22 years, now I understand the Texas thang.”

In San Francisco, Forrest Hainline has bounced out of his short retirement and is now Senior Counsel with law firm Braun Hagey & Borden. From the San Diego area, Mike Burgener wrote of imminent family additions. “Number two son Beau Jackson and his wife are expecting in August as son number three and his wife will be expecting a son hopefully named Wyatt in July. So four sons for right now to carry on the Burgener legacy. Other than that not too much is happening although 29 April I will be getting my second new replacement and I’m looking forward to that. I know the rehab will be tough but I’m in really good shape and still strong as I was at Notre Dame. Well maybe not as strong but at least I’m fit for 75-year-old.”

Winter life was good for John Walsh and Dia, who spent months in New Orleans, including Easter with John Flemming and Zoli Perry. For his part, Bryan Dunigan could email: “Tom Gibbs and I have just returned with Joyce and Matt Walsh from Jumby Bay Island, Antigua.”

Jim O’Rourke’s knowledge of the US Postal Service brought the Mendoza professor to appear on NBC Nightly News with Jose Diaz-Balart:

Please send news and photos to Tom Figel, 1054 West North Shore, Apt 3E, Chicago, IL 60626, tel. 312-241-7917,

Stephen R. Cooke, Sr., death March 20, 2021

(See Notre Dame friends’ memories below)

COOKE STEPHEN R., SR. Of Honeoye Falls, NY died peacefully on March 20, 2021 at the age of 74. Steve was born June 19, 1946 and grew up in Philadelphia, PA. He graduated from University of Notre Dame in 1968 and earned a Master’s degree in chemistry from Villanova University in 1972. Steve later earned a PhD in chemistry from Temple University in 1996. Steve worked with his father in the family business, Cooke Laboratories in Philadelphia for many years before re-locating to the Rochester area in 1997. Steve recently retired from Sabin Metal Corp. in Scottsville, NY where he worked as a chemist. Steve married his devoted wife Janine (Furphy) on July 18, 1980 in Philadelphia. Steve was an avid reader, enjoyed learning and loved nature and animals. He was an incredible father to his son, Stephen, who was the light of his life. Steve is preceded in death by his parents, Alfred Joseph Cooke, Sr., and Helen A. Cooke. In addition to his loving wife and adored son, Steve leaves behind his brother Alfred Joseph Cooke, Jr., (Marcia) of Lancaster, PA and their children, his nephews and niece, Alfred Joseph Cooke III (Mary Ann), Anthony M. Cooke (Susan), Christopher C. Cooke (Meredith) and Hilary N. Cooke, along with many other brothers and sisters-in-law and nieces and nephews. Due to Covid, the family will have a private ceremony, and those who knew him know Steve wouldn’t want the fuss anyway. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the American Heart Association.

Joe Hale: The following story that Stephen told me might get a few chuckles out of our class members so I am submitting this story as a possible inclusion in our class notes.   When Stephen was a senior he got pulled over by a Pennsylvania state trooper for speeding on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.   (I observed that Stephen was not afraid to drive with a heavy foot on the gas pedal.)   It was in western Pennsylvania, and the trooper learned that Stephen was a ND student.  The trooper proceeded to discuss for several minutes ND football players who hailed from western Pennsylvania (Terry Hanratty and others no doubt.)  Stephen was thinking to himself that it looked promising and that he could possibly enjoy some leniency.   Unfortunately the trooper said it was “Time to get down to business” or words to that effect.   End result:  Stephen’s speeding ticket meant that he could enrich the coffers of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  (I hope I didn’t snicker when Stephen told several of us this tale at -I think – the pay caf.  Hopefully I acted in a civil manner as Stephen was matter-of-fact in telling this story;  I don’t recall him thinking it was very amusing.)

Joe Hale: So sorry about Stephen Cooke as I enjoyed many a supper with him (plus Bob Spadaro and others) in the pay caf. While in Philly en route to West Germany I spoke with Stephen’s mother and got his mailing address as he was in Army training (Reservist doing his basic training or AIT.) But I never saw Cooke after graduation. If you know any details about Stephen’s demise….. Such a nice guy with a soft voice – quiet by nature but a good student. I am including Bill Weiler via cc as you can see; Bill knew Stephen from freshman year forward. 

Charles J. “Skip” Simons, death Feb. 9, 2021, New Brunswick, NJ

Charles J. “Skip” Simons, Jr. of Somerset, passed away on Tuesday, February 9 at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick. He was 74. 

Skip was born in Miami Beach, FL and raised in Miami. He graduated from University of Notre Dame in 1968 and was a life-long, passionate fan of its football and basketball programs. After receiving his MBA from University of Florida in Gainesville, Skip began working as an investment banker at Smith Barney in New York City. His career was put on hold to serve with the US Army Artillery, stationed at Fort Sill in Lawton, OK, from 1969 to 1971. After leaving the Army in 1971, Skip moved to Somerset and returned to Smith Barney, where he spent the next 20 years working in the New York and Tokyo offices, before taking early retirement in 1990 due to the challenges of Multiple Sclerosis. 

Always ready with an array of oft-told stories, Skip volunteered at the Franklin Township Food Bank, enjoyed meeting new people at the Quailbrook Senior Center, always made time to watch Notre Dame and New York Giants football, and loved hosting a good meal with family and friends. He was a parishioner most recently of St. Peter the Apostle RC Church in New Brunswick. 

Skip was predeceased by his mother, Mary Feuger Simons, in 2009. 

Surviving are his wife of almost 53 years, Joan; daughter and son-in-law, Stephanie and David Neal of Fanwood; son and daughter-in-law, Colin and Demi Simons of Shelburne, VT; and daughter Sarah and partner Patrick Bakaj of Newport, RI; father, Charles J. Simons, Sr. of Islamorada, FL; brother, James Simons of Hartland, VT; sister and brother-in-law Susan Simons Slovich and Michael Slovich of Islamorada, FL and Novelty, OH; and grandchildren, Teddi, Connor and Tyler of Shelburne, VT. 

Private cremation services have been arranged under the direction of Gleason Funeral Home in Somerset. A memorial mass and celebration of Skip’s life will be held later in the year. 

In lieu of flowers, donations in Skip’s loving memory can be made to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, where he was a long-time subscriber, or the Franklin Township (Somerset) Food Bank

Paul Bekavec, death February 4, 2021

Paul Bekavec

(See classmate memories below)

Paul E. Bekavac, age 74, of Gibsonia and Key West, FL, and formerly of Clairton, passed away on Thursday, February 4, 2021 at home. He was a retired funeral director and owner of the Paul E. Bekavac Funeral Home in Elizabeth. He attended the University of Notre Dame until his father’s untimely death in 1965, and furthered his education at Duquesne University and the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science. Upon his retirement in 2004, he relocated to Key West to follow his life long love of fishing. Born March 1, 1946 in Pittsburgh, he was a son of the late Anthony J. and Elvira Y. “Patty” (Yavor) Bekavac. He is survived by his partner and best friend, Teri Dulac of Gibsonia; daughter, Heather (Michael) Lutz of Pleasant Hills; sons, Tony (Rachel) Bekavac of Pleasant Hills and Paul E. Bekavac, Jr. of New York, NY; grandchildren, Cole, Preston and Ava Lutz and Anthony & Andre Bekavac; sister, Nancy Y. Bekavac of Washington, DC; brother, Daniel F. (Patti) Bekavac of Elizabeth Twp.; nephew, Daniel F. (Tara Jayant) Bekavac, Jr. of South Park; niece, Chloe (Jason) Fox of Damascus, MD; also, great-nephews and cousins. Friends will be received in the Paul E. Bekavac Funeral Home, Elizabeth, on Monday, February 8, 2021 from 1-4 and 6-8 PM. In order to comply with Covid-19 restrictions, guests are required to wear masks and follow CDC social distancing guidelines. Although we are thankful and appreciative of all who will come, we ask for these services, with the pandemic and our need to take care of our own family, that visitors limit themselves to a reasonable time. Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 10 AM in St. Joachim & Anne Parish, St. Michael Church with Rev. Thomas A. Wagner officiating. EVERYONE PLEASE MEET AT THE CHURCH. Burial to follow in Round Hill Cemetery, Elizabeth Twp. Memorial contributions may be made in Paul’s name to Gateway Rehabilitation, 100 Moffett Run Road, Aliquippa, PA 15001.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Paul E. Bekavac, please visit our floral store.

Memories of Notre Dame friends:

Tom Weyer: Some sad news, my roommate from freshman year in Keenan Hall, Paul Becavac from Clairton Pa, passed away this morning following a long battle with pancreatic cancer.Many of you won’t remember Paul because he left after freshman year, following the death of his Dad,Tony. He went home and ran the family business at 19.  He did it well, growing the business dramatically. His younger brother Dan attended ND and ND law school. Paul always Remembered Keenan Hall..and the Chicago Guys… He said that freshman year was the best year of his life….I never had the heart to tell him ..It got “much better”. He was a fighter…he will be missed…

Ed Lewis: I was sad to hear we lost another of our classmates which Paul definitely was. When we lose someone it is important to remember  happier days.. I hope everyone who had the good fortune to know Paul remembers how Paul used to give haircuts. Paul with a sly smile would have shaggy customers lie down on his bed for a good haircut because he explained he learned  to cut hair at the family funeral home and all of those dead customers were laying down!  Paul,Rest In Peace. Everyone stay safe,  

Dennis Withers: What a great story / memory.  How could anyone forget such a tale – and, it was probably true.  But, if it was not true, don’t tell me. 

Rick McPartlin: Great story Ed!  I hope Paul did not have his tape measure at the same time.

Joe Hale: Paul (who roomed with Tom Weyer as you probably know) was on the first floor of Keenan, and he stopped by my room to say good bye to “Arkansas” at the end of the second semester as he cut my hair throughout freshman year (for ROTC purposes.) He was such a good fellow, and I remember our Keenan rector Father Michael Heppen (who as you know died within the last couple of years after an extended battle with cancer) saying a funeral Mass in the honor of Paul’s father. Paul’s father died during our first semester so Paul had to return to Clairton to run the funeral home business. Father Heppen met Paul’s father and at the funeral remarked at how he was a fine man. 

Dr. Ed Dugan, death January 24, 2021, Gainesville, FL

Click the link and you will reach the remembrances of many students and colleagues, all touched by our classmate’s intelligence and concern.
Professor Ed Dugan with colleagues

Edward Thomas Dugan, age 74, of Gainesville, died peacefully on Sunday, January 24, at North Florida Regional Medical Center. He was dearly loved and immensely respected by family, friends and professional colleagues. Edward is survived by his wife, Kathy; their daughter, Rosanna; his mother, Marie Dugan; his sister, Kathy Simkins and numerous nieces and nephews. Edward was preceded in death by his daughter, Ellenmarie Dugan, and his father, Edward Joseph Dugan. Edward (Ed) was born on June 10, 1946, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to Edward and Marie Dugan, and began his college education at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Ed served with the United States Army in Vietnam from 1972-1973. Edward married his beloved Kathy on December 30, 1979 at the Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Verona, New Jersey. Edward graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1968 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He moved to Gainesville where he attained a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering Sciences in 1972. He earned a PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Florida in 1976. Dr. Dugan joined the UF faculty of Nuclear Engineering in 1977 where he first began his illustrious academic career and joined a research group specializing in nuclear reactor kinetics. During his tenure at UF, Dr. Dugan participated in a series of funded research projects with national and international significance, including advanced reactor analysis, nuclear power plant dynamics and control, space nuclear power and propulsion, radiation transport and backscatter x-ray imaging. He was a well published author and co-author with numerous patents. Dr. Dugan’s distinguished teaching career was also consistently recognized by students and faculty. Professor Ed Dugan was a superb teacher and was frequently awarded the professor of the year award, as nominated by his students. Moreover, his dedication to and rapport with two generations of students has had a lasting impact on the graduates and his fellow faculty members. The Edward T. Dugan American Nuclear Society Professional Excellence Award was established at the University of Florida in 2019 to honor Dr. Edward Dugan, then a professor emeritus at UF. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorial gifts be made in Ed’s honor to the “Edward T. Dugan American Nuclear Society Professional Excellence Award’ Fund at the University of Florida. This fund was created by Nuclear Engineering students at the University of Florida to honor Ed’s unwavering commitment to students and their development both professionally and personally. The fund will be used to support professional development activities for outstanding student members of the American Nuclear Society, to heighten national recognition and the stature of the University’s nuclear engineering student programs. Ed’s lasting impact on students is embodied through students who receive the Edward T. Dugan American Nuclear Society Award. To contribute to the fund or for more information, please visit Please visit his memorial page at FOR FURTHER INFORMATION WILLIAMS-THOMAS WESTAREA 352-376-7556

Michael A. Habing, December 9, 2020

Michael A. Habing, 74, of Indianapolis, Indiana passed away after heroic battles with pancreatic and esophageal cancers. His body ultimately succumbing to infection. Mike managed his illnesses with strength and grace, and wanted to spend as much time with his loved ones as possible. On his final day, he was surrounded by his wife, children, and grandchildren who he adored more than anything in the world.
Mike played rugby and graduated from The University of Notre Dame. He served in the Army Reserves from 1968-1974. He spent many years working in business and sales. In his spare time, he loved being part of many ministries at St. Paul, always learning, deepening, and sharing his catholic faith. He would never miss a Notre Dame Saturday, loved watching fast Friday and the Indy 500, vacations to the beach, sunshine, and meaningful discussions.
He never met a stranger and made everyone feel welcome. He was a dedicated and loving husband to his wife Martha of 51 years. He was an amazing father to Andy (Jaime), Kellie (Jason), and Kate. He was an adoring and adored Papa to Kerrigan, Jameson, and Finnegan Habing, Brayden, and Mason Faust. Older brother to Richard and loving brother-in-law, uncle, and cousin to many. He will be so missed and we are all better people for knowing this kind, self-less, humble faith-filled man.
Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:00 AM, Saturday, December 12, 2020 at St Paul Catholic Church followed by interment at Resurrection Cemetery. Mass will be live streamed beginining at 9:55 AM Saturday.

Greg Strick, seat 32 at ND-Michigan State game 1966

In his excitement that November afternoon, Greg Strick
jumped up and down on a flimsy end zone seat, #32

(From Greg Strick,, Zionsville, IN)

On Saturday morning November 19, 1966, I was among a number of ND students who went up to East Lansing to attend the Notre Dame – Michigan State U “Game of the Century”.  (See, 1966 Notre Dame vs. Michigan State football game). After the game ended in the famous 10-10 tie folks at our end of the stadium were cheering/celebrating and trying to take down the goal post. I too was really excited and was jumping up and down on the bench where I had been sitting. That was Seat No. 32, at the end of a row, in the end zone seating toward which ND was moving at the end of the game. Unfortunately, I did not save my ticket to know exactly what row I was in.  But during the excitement, the redwood bench plank that I was jumping on happened to shatter, the largest end piece retaining the seat number and the bolts. I must say, and I swear, that I did not intentionally break the bench, and I wanted to clean up the fragments.  But in doing so, as it also happened, I returned to campus with the bench fragment.  At first I just had it hanging on my wall in my room in Badin, but after coming back from the holidays in January 1967 I thought that the best thing to do would be to go around to the National Championship coaching staff and team members to see if anyone would sign the bench. In fact, they did, and the more that signed it, the cooler it became, and the happier others were to sign it.  After graduating I had kept the bench for nearly 52 years without any fanfare, having it hanging in one office or room after another, sharing the story with friends and family. I didn’t get back to campus much since I was either working internationally, or living in California.  Finally, nearer to our 50th Reunion, now nearly three years ago, I decided  to donate it to the University to a function that could have it placed somewhere in Heritage Hall with the 1966 Championship trophy or related memorabilia commemorating the 10-10 tie to enable the entire ND family to enjoy it.  I opted not to donate it to University Archives since I learned it would probably not get as much viewing.  Fortunately, I was able to hook up with the Monogram Club just prior to our Reunion and during that weekend I donated it.  Working with them, I was thrilled to have it placed in the Ara cabinet in Heritage Hall in the Joyce Center that has other items from Ara’s coaching years, including a write-up and photo of the ND-MSU game score board. 

I had also included a couple of game buttons, including the “Annihilate State Nov 19, 1966” button, and an older newspaper article of the game.   While on campus for Reunion 2018, I attended Rocky Bleier’s excellent one-man show “The Play”.  I complimented him after the performance, and mentioned the bench that he had signed in January 1967.  I thought he had a quiet look of recollection on his face, and I hope he may already have seen it in Heritage Hall.  But I know I need to do much more to spread the word so that more of our class and other members of the Notre Dame family can enjoy it, either online or in person the next time they are on campus.  I have included images of the bench and its current place in Ara’s cabinet, along with a pennant photo with names of the staff and team, and a current Wikipedia article to aid in remembering.