Paul Dunn, who reported the death of his friend, sent a second email in which Paul recounts the beginning of the long friendship he and others enjoyed with Tom: “
“In junior year, Tom was in a house off campus with Ken Collins, Dave Boehnen, and Bill Sweetman. I was in a house with Steve Grace, Eddie Haggar, and Gary Lyman. Our two houses/ guys partied a lot together junior and senior years, and remained friends after graduation with intermittent reunions over the years. Then, in 1995, after Gary Lyman died, we made a pact to see each other at least once a year, which we have done since, usually over golf in the Naples, FL area. The ND bond is very strong, as you well know. “So out of our original eight pals, Gary Lyman and Tom Roche are now gone. The six remaining will carry on the tradition of our annual gathering. This year will have to wait until this covid curse is over.”
Thomas J. Roche, 74, of Shadyside Rd., Findley Lake, NY., passed away Friday, October 23, 2020, at the Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio.
He was born June 16, 1946, in Erie, PA., to the late Paul C. and Margaret “Miggie” Molloy Roche, Sr.
Tom was raised in Erie until his Sophomore year of high school when he moved to Corry where he graduated from Corry Area High School in 1964. He attended the University of Notre Dame, graduating in 1968 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance. Upon graduation, he was certified as a stock broker and was hired at Walston & Company in Washington, D.C. He was the youngest of 2200 certified stock brokers in the country. In 1970, he moved to Boston, MA, where he worked at American Equities, selling mutual funds. He then moved to Cleveland, OH. where he continued in the sale of mutual funds. In 1974, Tom joined his family’s business, Erie County Plastics, in Corry, PA, as a sales representative. Continuing with sales, he worked until 1991 as Executive Vice-President and Sales Manager.
Tom and Dave Cullen co-founded The Heritage Trust Company. He was a board member from 1992 until it was sold. He also co-founded Thermat Precision Technology in 1995. Co-workers have often said he was a great boss and mentor.
Tom was known for his colorful sweaters, unique fashion sense and his love for Notre Dame. He loved to listen to John Prine with his family….or really with anyone who would listen. He also enjoyed hats, cats, skiing, and social golfing. In 1987 Golf Digest presented him with the award of Most Improved Amateur when “after lessons on course management and relaxation he shaved 14 strokes off his handicap, to become a 22”. He also had a love of architecture and spent many hours choosing plants and flowers to pot and plant around his property, including his beloved waterfall. Tom was also known as the “deck-a-tect” of Findley Lake, designing decks for his neighbors.
He was very active in the Corry and Findley Lake areas. His memberships and board positions in the Corry area included being President since the inception of the Corry Industrial Benefit Association, Advisory Board Member of Impact Corry and Past President and Past Board member of the Corry Area Industrial Development Corporation, Corry YMCA and the Corry Country Club.
Tom’s memberships in Findley Lake included, President and Board Member since its inception of Findley Lake Community Foundation and Board Member of Findley Lake Watershed Foundation. He was a member of St. Matthias Church in French Creek, NY. where he was on the Finance Committee. He helped spearhead the Save Our Fire Department campaign for the Findley Lake Volunteer Fire Department.
In addition to his parents, Tom was preceded in death by his sister, Norella Teresa “Terry” Roche.
Tom is survived by his wife of 32 years, Nancy M. Bracken Roche; three daughters, Tracie Setliff of Milwaukee, WI.; Alexis Roche McNamara and her husband Will of Sommerville, MA., and Norella “Ellie” Roche of Findley Lake, NY; a son, Chris Roche and his wife Keeler of Pittsburgh, PA.; and two brothers, Paul “Hoop” Roche Jr., and his wife Marne of Columbus, PA., and William Roche and his wife Jane of Corry, Pa.
He is also survived by four grandchildren, Lauren Roche, Madeline, Beatrice and Wynn Setliff. In addition, “Uncle Tom” was a fun loving uncle to his many nieces and nephews.
Family and friends may call at the Bracken Funeral Home, 315 N. Center St., Corry, Pa., on Wednesday from 1 to 3 pm and 5 to 8 pm., and attend the funeral mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Roman Catholic Church, 203 W. Washington St., Corry, Pa., on Thursday at 11 am. Rev. D. G. Davis III, will officiate. Due to CDC regulations, masks and social distancing will be required. The Funeral Mass may also be viewed on The Bracken Funeral Home Facebook page.
Burial will be in St. Matthias Cemetery, French Creek, N.Y.
In lieu of sending flowers, Tom and his family requests donations be made to his favorite charities; Findley Lake Community Foundation, 459 W. 6th St,. Erie, PA 16507, Findley Lake Volunteer Fire Department, 10372 Main St., Findley Lake, N.Y. 14736, and Corry YMCA, 906 N. Center St., Corry, PA. 16407, or to a charity of one’s choice.
To sign the guest book or send condolences, please visit www.brackenfh.com.SERVICES Funeral Mass
Thursday, October 29, 2020 11:00 AMSt. Thomas the Apostle Roman Catholic Church 203 W. Washington Stret Corry, PA. 16407 Get Directions on Google Maps
Calling hours will be held on Wednesday from 1 to 3 and 5 to 8 pm at Bracken Funeral Home, 315 N. Center St., Corry, Pa.
Ken Howard sent the new calendar of photos he’s taken in the seven seas. You’ll notice that Ken has thoughtfully added reminders of important dates such as the birthday of Class President Tom Weyer October 29th.
While Ken’s annual calendars always capture beauty from beneath the salt waves, the record suggests that he squandered the opportunity to document any and all of the beauty beneath the surfaces of Notre Dame’s St. Joseph and St. Mary’s Lakes.
Class President Tom Weyer says the quarantine and the passing years (termed by Mike Suelzer “the lengthening shadows”) increase appreciation for his father Honest John’s words, “I like how you guys take care of each other.” Tom marvels that anything could have kept him from attending Brian Sullivan‘s funeral or from pushing into a packed Sacred Heart Basilica for Joe Kernan‘s. Tom heard from classmates Chris Murphy, Rocky Bleier, Gene Cavanaugh, and Steve Anderson during a no-tailgate game: “All are lonely, all are in meatloaf withdrawal.” Fred Ferlic has an idea Tom endorses: “Use our 50 year club privileges and piggyback onto the 2021 reunion.” Now, there’s leadership.
Jim O’Rourke forwarded a note that Notre Dame has revised the service that gives us access to online information, including the addresses and telephone numbers of friends from any class. Registration is easy at www.my.nd.edu. The ten-digit number on the mailing label of your Notre Dame Magazine will get you underway. The tool is a good one for contacting friends ahead of the type of reunion Fred Ferlic proposes.
Retired FBI agent Rich Rogers wasn’t waiting for any online help when he was out for a bike ride in Jupiter, FL and spied another man bedecked in the same Notre Dame splendor, from hat to shorts. Rich introduced himself and, in a manner of speaking, collared a classmate who has been hiding in the shadows for decades: “Fred Franco, a great guy who was a prosecutor in NJ dealing with organized crime.” Rich’s moral: “It always pays to wear your Notre Dame stuff.”
Tom Culcasi, Joe Hale and others who enjoyed swanky Keenan Hall lodging freshman year have begun a regular Zoom session. Tom says the Keenanites so far are Tom Phillips, Mike Moore, Bill Cleary, Tom Curtin and John Soleau. Joe Hale, Mike Obiala, Marty Fino, Rob McDonald, Skip Schrader, Dan Collins, Ted Bratthauer, and Charlie Stevenson (all the way from Australia) have made appearances. “Zoom shows that none of us has aged,” says Tom, “though a few of us do part our hair with a much wider center part.” No doubt the cleverly named Keenanites spend most of their time talking about the rest of us – and maybe about the General Program men who have their own Zoom sessions. (See a following post for Joe Hale‘s unredacted note about the most recent discussion.)
If the Zoom sessions have the nature of a book discussion, plenty of offerings have come from our class. Pat Collins, who is under consideration for receipt of Notre Dame’s Griffin Award for writing, has completed Newsman, $20 per copy from https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9781624292897. Reviewed at washingtonian.com, what Pat has written spans his DC upbringing through his years as a newspaper and television reporter. Telling the stories that intrigue him, Pat describes how news reporting has changed since he was Observer editor. And if news stories are not your game, look in other sections of the ND68 authors shelf. Michael R. Ryan, head of the MFA program at the University of California – Irvine, has been productive and then some: five books of poems, an autobiography, a memoir, and a collection of essays about poetry and writing for which he has won strings of awards. Or try Tom Dorsel for Golf: The Mental Game. Or John D. O’Connor for the Watergate subjects probed in Felt and Postgate. Or Tom Condon for, among others, How to Hire and the sequel, How to Fire. Out in the blogosphere, Jay Schwartz has his One More Thing. . . postings at https://jayschwartzonthegrid.com/category/uncategorized/. Coming soon is the first novel of Gini Waters’ husband Joe Enright, who has dug into his NYC FBI background for a chiller about a terrorism crisis. And using his recent move to Chicago from Detroit as a claim on class of 1968 attention, Peter McInerney, ND69, has published “Tellings of Youth and Age.”
Forrest Hainline, says John O’Connor, has retired from legal practice and is now golfing thrice weekly with his wife Nancy. In a good old days moment, Bill Matturro, Bradenton, FL, remembered attending a post-Stepan Center concert party where Linda Rondstadt was present. Bob Noonan participated in a Veterans Day Panel Notre Dame videoed for alumni group distribution: “With me on the panel was retired Navy Rear Admiral Herb Kaler who was part of our class earning a liberal Arts BA, but also graduated from ND in ’69 with a degree in aerospace engineering. Clearly an overachiever.” Father John Sheehan, S.J., seemingly ever in transit, is now Chaplain at the University of St. Francis, Ft. Wayne, IN.
Dave Graves has his own transition underway: Rich Rogers says that, under the care of Dr. Pat DeMare, Dave is recovering from corona virus. Fortunately, Dave and the rest of us, though in our seventies, are lean and hard, without endangering flab.
Prior to the quarantine, Mike Thompson visited attorney Jim Carfagno and Susan in Atkins, AR. Mike, an accountant, came from Evansville, IN.
Joe Kernan, bust at Century Center, South Bend, IN
Steve Anderson added to the sad news of Joe Kernan‘s death July 29, 2020 and Dennis Doherty‘s death August 8, 2020 with revelation of his own dire condition, a cancer that, Steve says, will not prevent him from joining the class at the 2021 reunion. “I can never thank you enough for what your friendships have meant to me and what each of you individually has taught me,” Steve wrote. (See the following posts for Steve’s letter and for the obituaries of Dennis Doherty and Joe Kernan.)
Our blog, www.ndclass1968.com, has full news reports plus photos. The blog allows you to leave comments, and to reply to comments. Please send news – and photos – to Tom Figel, 1054 West North Shore, Apt 3E, Chicago, IL 60626, tel. 312-241-7917, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perhaps violating secrecy provisions of the Keenanite Zoom sessions, Joe Hale forwarded two Charlie Stevenson reports on his country of residence:
It was great talking and listening to you all today. We never got around to discussing the Covid-19 issue. I suppose it’s been so politicized that some of us might have been reluctant to bring it up (lest we face the wrath of the Zoom-Meister).
I didn’t want to let it go without saying that I wish all you and your loved ones well. Please take precautions and stay safe. What follows is an account of how Australia has dealt with the pandemic. If you’re interested, read on. If not, don’t (I don’t want to bore you). I’m presuming that most of you won’t get much news about Australia from your normal sources.
For what it’s worth, Australia has been spared the worst effects of the pandemic. They don’t call us “The Lucky Country” for nothing! We are lucky to have only a limited number of points where international travellers can enter the country – and we are, basically, a huge island – no land borders with any other country.
Our federal government is Conservative – a coalition of the (confusingly for Americans) Liberal Party (economic and social conservatives) and the National Party (also socially conservative, a Farmers’ and Rural areas party). Despite that, they took strong measures very early in the crisis to shut down all international travel into and out of Australia. China was locked out first (before the US did anything) and Europe was also locked out a week later. Apparently, our leaders were advised by the medical experts that they had two choices, basically, lock the place down quickly, invoke stringent social distancing measures and severely restrict all travel (which would obviously hurt the economy) OR simply advise people to take precautions, without any regulatory compulsion, and let the virus spread until there was “herd immunity” (which would lead to a relatively large number of deaths, especially among the elderly).
Our Prime Minister, Morrison, is a great Trump fan. Trump has given only 2 state dinners in his presidency and one was for a visit by Morrison. On the other hand, Morrison is a committed, church-going evangelical protestant Christian. Together with his Treasurer, Frydenberg, who is a practicing Jew, Morrison decided that they would not be morally responsible for large numbers of deaths among elderly Australians and, therefore, took stringent measures to lock down the nation. At the same time, they also threw huge amounts of money at the problem, in an attempt to minimize the effect on the economy – outright “pandemic payments” to people on pensions (eg., Aideen and I carry “Commonwealth Seniors Health Cards”, which give us discounts on pharmaceuticals, among other things – we have received $1,500 each so far, with another $500 to come this year); grants to small businesses to keep them operating; top-up payments to the recently unemployed to maintain something like their normal wages; etc. – amazingly socialist policies for a conservative government. They’ve gone from a central policy of reducing government debt at all costs (cuts to social security programs, cuts to public service numbers, etc.) to a policy of spending like a drunken sailor to keep the economy moving. If the Labor Party had been in power and done the same things, the conservatives would have been screaming bloody murder about saddling debts on our grandchildren. (NB: I vote Labor, by the way. Not to introduce politics into the discussion, or anything . . . .)
Australia has a land area about the same size (and, curiously, about the same shape – though upside down) as the 48 States (ie., not including Alaska and Hawaii), but our population is concentrated around the seacoast areas, with the vast interior very underpopulated, and our total population is about 26 million (roughly the same as Texas – slightly less). The country is a federation of 6 states (all former British colonies) and 2 territories. The states and territories are largely responsible for running their hospital systems (though the federal government funds them) and control the public health systems within their own borders.
3 of the states and both territories have Labor Party (ie., left-wing and socially progressive) governments; the other 3 states have conservative governments. In an effort to coordinate the fight against the pandemic, our Prime Minister established a “super cabinet”, consisting of the leaders and treasurers of all the state and territory governments, as well as the federal P.M. and the federal treasurer. Getting all the governments together worked well in the beginning of the crisis. There was only one serious outbreak in March-April (originating in the state of New South Wales, where Sydney is), caused by beaurocratic bungling which allowed over 3,000 passengers from a cruise ship to disembark and scatter around the country (and overseas) without being checked or quarantined. That slip up led to almost 500 cases, world-wide, and almost 40 deaths. Otherwise, the vast majority of cases of covid-19 appeared in people under quarantine after overseas travel.
We have since had a second, more serious, outbreak in the state of Victoria (where Melbourne is). Arriving travellers being quarantined in hotels were guarded by private security personnel, who were not properly trained and who didn’t enforce the rules (and even fraternized with the people in lockdown). As a result, Victoria has had a “second wave” of infections and relatively large numbers of cases and deaths. After more than a month of very strict controls (all restaurants, bars and public entertainment venues shut; no travel outside the home without a valid reason; no visits to aged care facilities, no face-to-face schooling, etc.), that outbreak is now under control.
Since the beginning of the crisis, most of the states have closed their borders to interstate travellers, allowing only essential economic traffic to enter. This has hurt certain sectors of the economy, most notably tourism and tertiary education. The conservatives are now arguing for immediate relaxation of the restrictions, while the Labor Party states are resisting such a move. Things are slowly getting back to something like normal, though we are all still encouraged to observe social distancing, to wear masks in places where people gather in large numbers, and to get tested for the virus if we have any of the symptoms.
The results for Australia of all these measures can be seen in the statistics. Since March we have had a total of just over 27,000 cases with 900 deaths (nation-wide). Approximately 2/3 of the cases and ¾ of the deaths have been in Victoria (their “second wave”). Compare this to Texas (about the same population): 870,000 cases and 17,500 deaths. The US, as a whole, with a population of 328 million, has had 8.19 million cases and 220,000 deaths. If we had the same rates of infection and death as the US, we would have had approx. 650,00 cases and 17,400 deaths.
I live in the state of Queensland, population about 4 million, bigger than Alaska and more than 3 times the land area of Texas. We have had just under 1,200 cases and 6 deaths (almost all in the southern part of the state, where the large population areas of Brisbane and the Gold Coast are). Up here in Far North Queensland, we’ve only had 35 cases (no community transmissions) and no deaths.
Of course, it only takes one infected person to kick off a whole new outbreak, but we are quietly confident that testing and tracing measures are in place to deal with such events in the future.
The city of Cairns (approx. 150,000) where I live, is largely dependent on tourism. The city has more hotel rooms per local population than any other part of Australia. Apart from hotels and restaurants, the tourist industry also relies on people taking boat trips out to the Great Barrier Reef, experiencing the local Aboriginal culture, exploring the rainforests (ie., jungles), etc. We have huge unemployment as a result of the lockdowns (though federal and state programs have poured money into small businesses to keep them afloat) and it will take a long time to recover. Still, most of the population here accept that the economic cost has been worth it. As one old fellow, being interviewed on the local radio, said: “Dead people don’t eat in restaurants, stay in hotels, or take reef trips.”
I hope that gives you a good picture of the situation here in Australia. Aideen and I feel quite safe, though we do still practice social distancing, hand washing, etc. – just in case.
Once again, best wishes to you all and to your families. Stay safe and well.
The second Charlie Stevenson note (submitted for extra credit) explains Australia’s voting mandate:
Yes, Australia is one of the few countries in the world with compulsory voting. If we fail to vote without a valid reason, we are fined. We can vote in advance of polling day by mail or by in-person, pre-poll voting, as well as voting on polling day, of course.
Australians, like Americans, don’t like much being told what to do. Nevertheless, I haven’t heard many complaints about compulsory voting. It’s been there forever and I guess people are just used to it. I doubt very much that it could ever be introduced in the US. Despite the assumption, which superficially looks logical, that left-wing parties are helped by compulsory voting (ie., it’s people at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder who don’t vote if they don’t have to), various research studies (both here and in the US) have shown that people who don’t vote, or who wouldn’t vote if they didn’t have to, are divided pretty evenly on the question of which party they support.
On the issue of Australia’s convict past . . . Like the US, Australia’s population has grown rapidly for the last century or more, due to various waves of immigration. It probably started with our gold rush, which was 25 or 30 years after California’s. Lots of Irish and Italians arrived then, to look for gold (as did quite a few Americans) and the Chinese came in large numbers – usually to service the gold field settlements by growing vegetables and fruit and by setting up restaurants and laundries (much more reliable sources of income than gold prospecting). After WWI, we got lots of Italians, who tended to settle in northern parts of Australia and grow sugar cane. After WWII, there were initially lots more Italians and quite a few Croatians and Serbs (not the best of friends . . .). After the Viet Nam war, we had an influx of boat people from there (who were warmly welcomed at the time, in contrast to more recent boat people from the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka, who’ve been incarcerated as illegal immigrants and shipped back home whenever possible). We also had a large influx of Chinese after Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule in 1997. A lot of them were wealthy and well-educated, as opposed to most earlier immigrants, who tended to be poor farmers, fishermen and laborers, on the whole. We now have quite a diverse population with the cultural mix that brings. While our population base is still largely European in origin, you would notice quite a lot more Asian influence here than you see in most parts of America.
The Australian economy relies heavily on immigration/population growth. The impact of the covid-19 crisis that will hurt our economy most severely is the total lack of immigration this year.
Another outcome of our growing and diversifying population is that anyone who can trace their ancestry back to an original convict transportee wears that like a badge of honour. It’s like Americans with ancestors who came over on the Mayflower. It’s also worth remembering that, while many transported convicts were thieves and prostitutes, there were also quite a few political prisoners from Ireland.
One final point. The penal colony in New South Wales was established by the Brits in 1798 to replace their lost penal colonies in the Carolinas. Funny, you don’t often hear about the convict ancestors of the people in North and South Carolina . . .
Unfortunately, bad news travels fast and I wanted to share something with the members of my personal Great ’68 before it gets broadcast to a larger audience.
Last week I was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic malignant melanoma. I had found a couple of small areas but was otherwise asymptomatic. I was in northern Michigan at the time but contacted Fred Ferlic who did his usual turnaround of getting me in to see an oncologist and get CT scans in less than 24 hours. Since I had a past history of removal of a stage 2 melanoma 5+ years ago at Ann Arbor, the oncologist was suspicious of recurrent melanoma and a biopsy performed the following day proved him right.
There have been a lot of new breakthroughs in the immunotherapy of melanoma in the past 6 years, and this continues to be a fertile field for research and new drug trials. I started immunotherapy yesterday with Opdivo and Yervoy, and will eventually transition to Opdivo alone for two years. My disease is not curable and the goal will be to keep things under control for as long as possible, with hopes for new breakthroughs in the interim.
All of us have hit high points and low points in our lives, and all of you have been significant participants in helping me navigate my life’s journey. Like many of you, I had a particularly difficult time in 1968 and 1969, and your collective support made the difference in what has been a thoroughly satisfying life since then. I can never thank you enough for what your friendships have meant to me and what each of you individually has taught me.
Covid, sadly, has potentially disrupted opportunities for us to get together in our usual fall and reunion activities and we continue to have an uncertain future because of that. We are on target to try for a class reunion during ND alumni weekend in 2021, and I have every intent of being there.
Nancy has been great in her support and love, but it has been tough on our boys. If you see them, some words of support go a long way. Personally, I feel like I am in a good place. Notre Dame has its own ambience of peace and transcendence and I have been tapping into that.
Phil Fitzpatrick sent the news along with photos from a long friendship with his former roommate.
Here are three photos of Dennis. One is from our 45th Reunion (Dennis on the right with Ted Nebel - left, Clark Stanton - 2nd from left, and me - to Dennis' left). The second is Dennis (left) and me on graduation day. The third is undated but from many years ago.
It’s with deep sadness that I report the death of Dennis Doherty, our classmate, following a long and difficult battle with Alzheimer’s. Dennis was my roommate for three years, best man at my wedding and a great friend. He could not have had a better caregiver than his wife, Joan. Here is his obituary.
Phil Fitzpatrick ‘68
Greenville, SC – Dennis John Doherty Jr. died peacefully at home on August 8, 2020.
Dennis was born in Birmingham, Alabama Sept 23, 1946.
He was a man in love with life, a life he loved to fill with playing in the mountains their rivers and lakes, dancing in the evenings, eating ice cream whenever the mood hit and spending moments with the ones he loved. He was an adventurer in soul and a family man at heart.
Dennis graduated from Greenville Highschool in 1964 before moving on to Notre Dame where he was a member of the Lacrosse team and member of the ski club while earning a degree in Engineering. He finished his formal studies at Penn State with a Masters degree in Acoustical Engineering in 1971.
Following a decade in Atlanta GA, where he married and started his family, he returned to Greenville in 1982 to be close to his mother and siblings while raising his three children. He successfully ran his small business Doherty Computer Services (DCS) for close to two decades before retiring to other pursuits.
Dennis was never an idle man and donated much of his time to organizations he believed in, receiving a 10 year service award from Greenville Guardian ad Litem and a 30 year Honor Award from Kiwanis Club of Greenville where he was secretary for 7 years. He was also a member and trip leader for the Greenville Natural History Association (GNHA) as well as a referee for the South Carolina Youth Soccer Association (SCYSA) for over 20 years. Dennis was also an active long-time member of St Giles Presbyterian Church and more recently Brookwood Church.
He is survived by his wife, Joan Woodlief Doherty; children, Dennis John Doherty III (Stacey), of Greenville, SC, Meghan Doherty Wolfrom (Jed), of Bozeman, MT and Reid Doherty (Mary Beth), of Mauldin, SC; Step daughter, Christina Janvier of Mauldin; grandsons, Dennis John Doherty IV and Merritt Doherty of Greenville, Jasper and Maclaren Wolfrom of Bozeman, MT; granddaughters, Lane and Anna Pearse Doherty of Greenville; sisters, Lorraine E. Sterling, of Greenville and Ann T. Doherty, of Canton, MI; and brother, Robert P. Doherty, of Greenville. He was preceded in death by his father, Dennis Doherty Sr.; mother, Lillian F. Doherty; and sister, Kathleen Moseley.
The Doherty family wishes to express their gratitude for the many acts of kindness that have been extended to them. Special acknowledgement is extended to the loving care of the staff of Open Arms Hospice and to Dennis’ personal caregivers Ms. Loretta Dawkins and Ms. Linda Jenkins.
A private memorial service will be held Wednesday, August 12 at 3 pm.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the Alzheimer’s Association or Open Arms Hospice or Brookwood Church.
In addition to the newspaper and media obituaries celebrating Joe Kernan’s exceptional life, memories have come from the friends Joe made when he was with us as a Notre Dame student. If you have an addition, pile on. You can send your memory to email@example.com or go ahead and post on the blog. There is no expiration date for appreciating Joe Kernan.
by WSBT 22Wednesday, July 29th 2020
Joseph E. Kernan, 48th governor of the state of Indiana and former South Bend mayor, passed away following a long illness.
Kernan served in the U. S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He was a POW for nearly 11 months in 1972 and received many awards for his military service.
The Democrat won three elections as South Bend’s mayor before being elected lieutenant governor with Gov. Frank O’Bannon in 1996. He took office as governor in 2003 after O’Bannon died from a stroke.
Kernan, 74, was diagnosed with dementia several years ago. He had lost the ability to speak due to Alzheimer’s disease and was living in a care facility.
Kernan’s former Chief of Staff Mary Downes says there will be no public service at this time due to the coronavirus pandemic
Here is the full statement from Downes:
SOUTH BEND, INDIANA (July 29,2020) – Earlier today, Joseph E. Kernan, 48th Governor of the State of Indiana passed away following a long illness. He is survived by his wife Maggie, and seven siblings who live in the state of Maine and the Washington, DC area.
Kernan’s distinguished career began as a United States Navy Lieutenant. He and his co-pilot were shot down while on a reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam in 1972. He spent 11 months as a POW in Hanoi, including at the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison.
A graduate of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, Kernan returned home in 1974 to begin a career in business. In 1980, South Bend Mayor, Roger Parent asked him to serve as the City Controller in his administration.
Seven years later in 1987, he was elected to his first of three consecutive terms as mayor of the City of South Bend. In his third election as mayor, he received over 82% of the vote – still the widest margin of victory in the City of South Bend history.
In 1996, Frank O’Bannon, who was running for Governor of Indiana, asked Kernan to join him as the candidate for Lt. Governor. O’Bannon and Kernan were elected in November of that year. The team of O’Bannon and Kernan won reelection four years later in 2000.
When Governor O’Bannon died unexpectedly of a stroke in 2003, Kernan was sworn in as the state’s 48th Governor. Kernan made history immediately by appointing Kathy Davis as Indiana’s first female Lt. Governor.
Upon retirement from politics in 2005, Kernan moved back to South Bend and convinced fifty other members of the community to purchase the minor league South Bend Silver Hawks baseball team. At the time, the team was precariously close to leaving the city.
Kernan and his investors were able to keep the team in South Bend until a new owner by the name of Andrew Berlin was found in 2011. Not only did Berlin agree to keep the team in South Bend, he signed a twenty-year lease for the stadium at the same time.
Kernan continued to work as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Notre Dame, and through his own consulting firm until his death earlier today.
“Indiana mourns the loss of Joe Kernan, a bone fide American hero, decorated Navy officer, and truly selfless statesman who always placed the interests of his fellow Hoosiers first,” said Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb.
“Distinguished isn’t a strong enough word to describe him. Without regard for personal cost, Joe Kernan devoted every ounce of his life, time and again, to upholding the oath he took, and serving the country and state he loved.
Undeterred after being shot down and tortured in Vietnam, he returned and led his beloved City of South Bend as mayor for three terms, and our state as our 47th lieutenant governor. When duty called him to step into a role he didn’t seek, he served as our 48th governor.
Through his decades of servant leadership and sacrifice, Joe Kernan modeled all the best of what it means to be a Hoosier and his legacy will continue to live on in each of us whom he inspired.
Janet and I ask Hoosiers across our state to join us in lifting up in prayer Mrs. Kernan, their incredible family, and all whose lives he touched.”
Kernan passed away at 5:30 a.m. this morning after a prolonged illness. Arrangements are being made by Welsheimer’s Funeral Home in South Bend. Kernan, always a loyal friend, had expressed a preference for Welsheimer’s because the funeral home sponsored his little league team in 1958 when he was 12 years old.
“Joe Kernan’s many and noteworthy contributions to Notre Dame, our community, the state and our nation cannot be overstated,” said John I. Jenkins, C.S.C, President of the University of Notre Dame. “A student-athlete at the University, he earned a bachelor’s degree in government, then entered the Navy and served as a decorated aviator in Vietnam, where he demonstrated uncommon heroism when shot down and held prisoner of war for 11 months.
“As a three-term mayor of South Bend, he set the city on an upward trajectory that continues to this day. He likewise served our state with distinction, first as lieutenant governor and then, upon the sudden passing of Gov. Frank O’Bannon, stepping up as governor.
“In addition to his government service, he was a beloved civic leader who never shied away from challenges. He was always a good friend to Notre Dame, and a friend and support to me personally. We were proud to have him as an alumnus, and as an adjunct faculty member in political science.
“In presenting Joe with an honorary degree in 1998, the University praised him as ‘an accomplished public servant who played a pivotal role in strengthening the University’s town-gown relations.’ He went on to deliver a superb commencement address to the graduating class.
“Our prayers are with his wife, Maggie, their family and his many friends. We grieve over his passing, while simultaneously recognizing a remarkable life. May he rest in peace.”
Memorial contributions may be made to the Veterans Fund at the University of Notre Dame. Please direct your gift to support scholarships and fellowships for military-connected students to giving.nd.edu, by phone (574) 631-5150, or by mail: University of Notre Dame, Department of Development, 1100 Grace Hall, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556.
Pete Buttigieg@PeteButtigieg There will not be another like Joe Kernan. South Bend will always be proud of his heroism in uniform and his leadership as our mayor and Governor. And his friends will always remember his exuberant joy, his compassion for the vulnerable, his ready smile, and his inimitable laugh.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s office issued the following statement:
INDIANAPOLIS — Governor Eric J. Holcomb offered the following after the passing of former Gov. Joe Kernan.
“Indiana mourns the loss of Joe Kernan, a bone fide American hero, decorated Navy officer, and truly selfless statesman who always placed the interests of his fellow Hoosiers first.
Distinguished isn’t a strong enough word to describe him. Without regard for personal cost, Joe Kernan devoted every ounce of his life, time and again, to upholding the oath he took, and serving the country and state he loved.
Undeterred after being shot down and tortured in Vietnam, he returned and led his beloved City of South Bend as mayor for three terms, and our state as our 47th lieutenant governor. When duty called him to step into a role he didn’t seek, he served as our 48th governor.
Through his decades of servant leadership and sacrifice, Joe Kernan modeled all the best of what it means to be a Hoosier and his legacy will continue to live on in each of us whom he inspired.
Janet and I ask Hoosiers across our state to join us in lifting up in prayer Mrs. Kernan, their incredible family, and all whose lives he touched.”
AND NOW FROM THE CLASSMATES:
From: Joe Kernan <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Class of ’68 Saturday Alternative Dinner To: “Tom Gibbs” <email@example.com> Cc: “Kari Orpurt” <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Thursday, May 1, 2008, 4:47 PM
Gibber – Following up on our conversation the ’68 Saturday dinner will be at Coveleski Stadium in downtown South Bend. The Upper Deck will be the location in the ballpark. Plenty of parking. Cocktails begin at 6:30, with dinner to follow whenever we feel like it. Appetizers, buffet, dessert, beer, wine and gratuity included in $35 per head. If you want hard stuff there will be a cash bar. Our President for Life has agreed to lead the “Ruggers Run the Bases” event commencing at 8:00, or whenever four or more ’68ers demand it. Please have our distinguished and responsible classmates respond to Kari Orpurt, Upper Deck, 501 W. South St., South Bend, IN 46601 with a check for themselves and guests; or by email to the above address; or call her at 574-235-9985. Being somewhat familiar with the members of the class, I understand that getting an early and accurate head count will be impossible, but appreciate the effort. Respectfully submitted – Joe
Mike Brennan, 1969, started a good string when he wrote to Bryan Dunigan and attached a photo: ” I am sending a picture of the Sorin Hall Championship Interhall Football Team, 1967. You can see it has some of the greats of “68, Joe being one of them. You can do with it as you please, it is a terrific memory for me of what Notre Dame means to all of us. I will send a copy to Maggie with my condolences. God Bless, be safe and thank you for keeping so many of us appraised of our friends.” But who is who? Read on for the answer from Tom Durkin.
Bryan Dunigan said: “I can find Joey on the railing. Is that also the Baby Earl in the front row and Wheels Kenealy in upper left corner? Is this team enshrined in Canton yet?”
And Tom Durkin’s answer: “Indeed it is both wheels and the Baby.
“Bill Bingle the second from left in front row, and I am behind him with the towel around my neck. Skip Strzelecki, Jay Jordan and Dick Carrigan in the back row.
“An incredible team. The victory party in the basement of Sorin after we won the Championship was one for the ages—if my memory serves me Gibbs has an article about the game and party that made the Observer. One of the top 10 days of my life. (Don’t ask me about the other nine.) Seems like it was only yesterday.”
Jim Hutchinson wrote:
“He hosted a party at his house with Dave Martin when my son started at ND in 1993. It was a nice way for the freshmen to get to know a few other kids before orientation. Joe was a gracious host – he was mayor at the time One kind of funny story from Freshmen year PE class. At the end of our soccer session it came time to pick an “all star team” Somehow our captain picked me over Joe. Joe was a great athlete and, let me put it this way, I was not. The looks on everyone’s faces were beyond shock, as they should have been. I did not know Joe but looked at him expecting a “You’ve got to be kidding me, scowl”. Instead I got the classic Joe Kernan smile that I never forgot. I realize that this is a small and insignificant story in the scheme of things but it has always stuck with me.
“When you look at his life, everyone of us looks small but he would never make anyone feel that way.”
A Tom Figel addendum to Jim’s memory:
One of the times Joe and a group of his classmates were winding up at Sunny Italy restaurant, Joe didn’t just say good-bye to the owner Sis. Addressing everyone by name – any age, any station – Joe went into the kitchen and not just said hello but checked on family with the many people at work. Joe was ex-Governor then and occupied with, among other things, the Silver Hawks and a string of charities.
Another time, he spoke at a luncheon in Chicago. In those remarks, he talked about his Chicago history: during the Depression, Joe’s grandfather was in need of work. Then, a friend lost her husband, just at the time the man was about to begin work for a City crew. Immediately, Joe’s grandfather and the widow concocted a scheme: Joe’s grandfather would report to work but in the guise of the man who had passed away. What Joe’s grandfather made would go in part to the other family. Time went on. All of a sudden, the supervisor came along, a sad look on his face. “What’s the matter?” Mr. Kernan asked. He heard in answer: “This is terrible. I have to let you go. Some guy with a City Hall connection, someone named Kernan, is being given the job you have.”
Paul Zalensky wrote:
“I am truly saddened at the loss of Joe. As a freshman at Stanford Hall, Joe would dare passers to get a ball past him on the grass field. In sophomore year, at Howard Hall, Joe asked me to help him with Economics, saying “I need to figure this stuff out; can you be my special tutor?” And who can forget his kamakazi style playing for the Irish on special teams, where he would throw his body in the air to stop a kickoff return? We have lost a true warrior.”
Neil Rogers wrote:
” I remember sometime in the summer of 2008 my son Conor and I were in South Bend.Conor was visiting a young lady ND lady classmate and we were at the minor league ballpark and Joe tracked us down in right field. As the head of the ball club he was extremely busy, but he went.out of his way to make sure the Rogers were treated as Silverhawk royalty. Joe and I were not well acquainted but that mattered little. We were treated as part of a big family. All were blessed to know Joe.”
Mike Browning wrote:
“Gregarious, feisty, a fighter, always to the point, no subtlety, incredibly loyal, a man for all people….. on and on.
He left us some time ago and we tried hard to pretend that he was with us. But last night we grieved and Tom McKenna and I reminisced with a beer and we were reminded of on Mick Jagger song. “Let’s drink to the hard working people, let’s drink to the lowly of birth, Raise your glass to the good and the evil, Let’s drink to the salt of the earth… “
Tom Weyer wrote:
“I must commend our South Bend crew who took so much time taking Joe out for lunch , movies appointments and other events. Maggie sure needed an occasional break. Tom Cuggino, Pat Barth, Gene Cavanaugh, Skip Strezliki, Dr Freddie Ferlic, Chris Murphy…and I’m sure others, were a super CareTeam…..They had something going on every week . Great 68” at its finest…. As I said at the Reunion…we didn’t need Fraternities…..Notre Dame gave us all the brothers we would ever need.”
“Indeed it is difficult to see one of our classmates pass on. However, in Joey’s situation, of course it’s our loss, but it may truly be a blessing in disguise as the Alzheimer’s was enough of a burden, but with other complications it was difficult for Joe and many of his family and friends. But as we know, Joe built and nurtured many friends over a lifetime of good cheer, kindness, and truly caring for all he met, so that the prayers from all those friends and family hopefully made his last days a blessing of love for all who cared for him and about him. May Joe rest in the love of our Lord in heavenly peace!
“Here’s but a little story of Joe’s interaction with me. It is but a snippet of my recollection and experience with a marvelous guy and a HUGE HUMAN BEING. It was very hard not to love the guy, but I was tested at least once. It was on the golf course, and I recall Joey was a reasonably crumby player, but a player that would never give up or even show the slightest possibility of quitting (which word was simply not in his vocabulary). Once upon a time, in his home territory we had a golf match at the South Bend Country Club (or I like to think it was there, and if it was there we were only there because Joey had friends in high places).
“As it was, we were betting often and excessively, along the lines of a $2 Nassau. As we played we continued the banter back and forth for the entire round. Of course, one of Joes major abilities was to talk, and when on the golf course he’d normally be talking at the wrong time (in my backswing more often than not). And as the round progressed and his putter, not to mention his other clubs, started to really let him down around the 15th hole, he started to press our bet. I recall he won the 16th hole but I took back the 17th and we were down to the final link…..#18. I drove where I was supposed to be, in the fairway (a place normally not with which I was very familiar). Joey drove to the right somewhere in the rough……or at least he told me that’s where his ball came to rest. We both hit our second shots and mine was well placed and handsomely played (even if I do say so myself), while Joey was swatting flies, and his ball which barely rolled into an unfamiliar place for him that day…..the fairway. My third shot was on the green and Joey’s was way short. He had to press and indeed the pressure must have gotten to him as he duffed his next shot to with about 100 yards of the green. Bottom line, due to some inordinately poor shots by Hizzoner, he ended up loosing the match and the BIG MONEY (maybe around $7 or $8 bucks). But as the competitor Joey was, he hated losing….especially to a rank amateur like me. So it is my contention that Joey hatched a plan between the 18th green and the bar that targeted my winnings, or at least hatched a plan to avoid paying his debt to me, at least for that day.
“His plan, drink enough beer (back in those days) and “over-serve” me so that I’d forget about the debt the future governor of Indiana owed to yours truly. Well, I’m sad to say I didn’t get him to pay up on his debt, but I think that my consumption was sufficient to qualify for a win in that day’s betting circle. Joey was a competitor to the end because it took at least two major malaises to bring the man down……but we know down did not happen for Joe. He is high above and cheering us all on and is rooting for each and every one of us.
“Today, I will raise a glass in honor of a truly good man. God bless you Joe and may you continue to bless us with your friendship and the love that you brought to all our lives! “
A Tom Figel addendum to Dave’s memory:
John Walsh, Tom Moore and I had come to a Joe Kernan roast put on by a South Bend group with a name like Goose and Duck. His South Bend friends did a good job of roughing Joe up, with some stray shots directed at never-RSVP-on-time Fred Ferlic. Joe held his own when he had his chance to rebut. One of his stories concerned a golf outing when, as Governor, he had a state trooper in attendance. Somebody in the foursome, someone at the event that day, was lining up for a meaningful but lengthy putt. Joe turned to the trooper and said, “If he makes that putt, I want you to shoot him.”
Mike Burgener wrote:
“ya i have great memories of joe kernan at notre dame…..as i recall joe was a baseball player and i might even had a class or two with joe and his bb coach jake cline….those were the days!!! on one occasion i can remember being back on campus, sometime in the mid to late 70’s as i recall……Joe and i saw each other and my first comment to joe was: “well joe, you got your ass caught!!” we both laughed and he said: “yup, i sure did!!!” joe was an amazing person and i am sad to see him leave this world, but we all know he is in a better place!!! RIP JOE!!!
Pete Farrell wrote:
“Several years back I happened to land a terrific blue chip runner out of Culver Academy. She was one of the best if not the best high school prospect in the country. As nine time Indiana State Champion in cross country and track, Alex Banfich was chosen as the top high school athlete In the Hoosier State. She was to receive her award and recognition at the half time of the Colts game. Having already decided on Princeton as her college choice, she stepped forward to receive her award from the governor who greeted her with “Pete will take good care of you next year.” Her parents told me this story. Thanks Joe.
“Terre Haute, Indiana is to college cross country what Omaha is to baseball. While driving my team through downtown TH, I noticed a store front displaying Headquarters of the Joe Kernan’s Campaign for Governor. Errrrrhhh. I immediately pulled the van over and told the team I‘ll be right back. Entering the room I found two idle young men leaning back in their chairs waiting for business. I asked “Do you guys know who Joe is?” They answered that they had met him once. I felt compelled to unload on them. “I know you’ve read of his accomplishments, his war record and his civic service. I had the privilege of living next door to him in college. He was and is no ordinary or average Joe. No, Joe is quite extraordinary. He’s the good guy who also gets things done. No nerd here, he enjoyed college as much as any body you know. He was the catcher on the baseball team. If you can’t trust the catcher who can you trust. He’s the man this state needs as governor.” I exhorted them to be aggressive in doing his bidding. I think I put some life behind his picture. Not hard to do with a guy like Joe.”
Larry “Monk” Forness wrote:
“I remember when a friend moved back here (South Bend area) in 2008, I was out at a little eatery with Ron Jeziorski. He leans over and tells me that there is Joe Kernan at another table. I had not seen Joe since we graduated. I walk up to Joe’s table and reintroduce myself. But I’m not even done talking when Joe says, “Hey, Monk. Great to see you again. Welcome back, Brother.” I was stunned that he’d not only remember me, but see who I was after all those years, and that I had been in ‘Nam. Joe adds: “I remember that you lived in Stanford freshman year.” Again, I was stunned, and said, “Joe, given that you were shot down and in the Hanoi Hilton, it should you be ME telling ‘Welcome back, Brother’ to YOU.” Which I did.And I also remember all those great evenings at the South Bend ball park and having root beer and good conversation after the game was over.”
Skip Strzelecki wrote:
“Notre Dame as we all know has no fraternities, but what we do have is an even stronger bond, a bond of brothers. One of the great benefits of our beloved university! The “Great 68” is filled with great leaders who have impacted and inspired all of our lives. Sadly we lost one of the greatest of the Great 68 Joe Kernan who served his last run, caught his last pass, made his last putt and is now enjoying his ultimate victory and reward for his life well lived. Joe embodied for all of us one of Father Ted’s favorite quotes, “If you want to fulfill your life, live it for others”. May God Bless Joe and Maggie and may the beautiful Lady on the Dome continue to watch over them and all of our classmates.
Bryan Dunigan sent link to Joe’s commencement address video, 1998:
What a great guy he is. My firm represented a POW who was charged with consorting with the enemy. The partner came into my office one day and said, “You were a classmate of Joe Kernan!” I said, “Yeah?” He said, Joe is the greatest guy I have ever met. Joe was considered a solid loyal officer and he stuck up for the officer charged. And showed how the officer was cleverly getting the Vietcong to treat them better, without being disloyal. Joe’s known integrity was the centerpiece to the defense.
Mike Crutcher wrote:
(After watching Joe’s commencement address, 1998 class) “Joe’s demeanor and observations very accurately reflect the uniqueness of ND . A wonderful blend of faith , academics , community service and athletics . May ND always strive for excellence in representing our belief in God and service to others as the highest of achievements .”
Rich Rogers wrote:
“I first met joe during our 10th reunion I believe. I and some other 68ers went to his house near Angela for refreshments. He gave us a tour and pointed out his pool table in the living room,bar etc. Over the fireplace he had a painting of a green jungle with a fighter jet with the numbers on it on the way down into the greenery. To the right was a smaller parachute with a small figure. He told me that was him, laughing that when he returned to ND and South Bend he was never going to leave ,ever. He left out the POW aspect modestly. As a loyal patron of THE VIEW tavern on Jefferson in SB I became friendly with some of the luminaries. One was Jack Dillon who was a chemistry professor at St. Mary’s. Jack had lost his wife to cancer and was left with their young daughter who had survived spina bifida and was permanently confined to a wheelchair for life. He was burdened with serious ongoing medical bills because of his daughter’s conditons. I told him i was a ’68 grad. He lit up and said, “You must know Joe Kernan”. He told me that when Joe heard of his situation, Joe set him up with a position that needed to be filled with the South Bend Dept of Streets. Jack left St. Mary’s and Joe was then his boss as mayor. Joe did this on his own so that Jack and his daughter would have excellent health benefits and their financial burdens would be lifted. It was never about Joe, always others. Jack called me the day Joe passed. He said, “Today i lost a great boss and a SPECIAL friend”. So did we all! GOD BLESS JOE KERNAN tom- we sure left ND with much more than a degree. how fortunate we are!”
Jay Schwartz wrote (to Dennis Gallagher):
“Dennis: Your email mentioning Joe Kernan brought this memory. His obit mentioned survivors in D.C.( maybe siblings). Joe had been raised in South Bend but his family moved to D.C. while he was at Notre Dame. He had never been there. So, on one break or another, I told him I knew where he now lived and we drove to D.C. I think a ND friend of mine was driving as neither Joe or I had a car.In any event, we delivered Joe to his family in D.C.in Northwest D.C. and proceeded on to the wrong side of the tracks ( albeit in a fashionable section).The best part of the obits I’ve read was his insistence to be buried through the funeral home which had sponsored his little league team.
Bob “Rabbit” Noonan wrote:
Tom, soliciting stories about Joe will only be restrained by the storage on your computer. We all have Kernan stories from our ND days but let me share one from 1988.
Still in the Army, we were transferring from Hawaii to the Army War College in Pennsylvania in the summer of 1988. I decided to make a side trip to ND and as we pulled into South Bend, the billboard said: Mayor Joe Kernan. As this was before the internet and we had spent the last three years in Hawaii, I still thought he was the comptroller. We pulled into our hotel and I called City Hall just to say hello. I hadn’t seen him since 1969. His assistant put him through and it was like we were back in our undergrad days. Then he said he was busy but would call back and maybe we could go out for dinner. My wife and kids had already cleaned up and I was in the shower when my wife came into the bathroom and said there was a policeman at our door demanding to come in. I grabbed some shorts and opened the door. The policeman asked me if I was “the rabbit”. I said yes and then Joe appeared down the hallway, laughing his butt off. He demanded we all go to Corby’s for pizza and so we did. We were going to leave the next day but he asked us to stay because he was hosting a veteran’s ceremony at the ballpark and wanted me to come. I said sure and the next morning we went to the ceremony. After a few remarks, Joe then announced that the speaker would be LTC Bob Noonan, a Vietnam Vet still on Active Duty. He gave me that mischievous look and handed me the microphone. I winged it but Joe couldn’t get the smile off his face. He then invited my family to a social event at his house that afternoon. We went and I was impressed that Joe was spending time talking to our 11 year old son about moving and finding new friends. As we left he told my son to wait and then ran back into his house and brought out a football autographed by Lou Holtz and the entire coaching staff; an incredibly generous gesture.
He will be missed.
On 40th anniversary of his flight out of Vietnam, Joe Kernan counted his blessings
Joe Kernan, front row, second from left, is shown in this undated photo with members of his Navy squadron aboard the USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War. Tribune File Photo
Editor’s note: This story was first published in the Tribune on March 28, 2013.
SOUTH BEND — There are some days a person never forgets. Forty years ago, March 28, 1973, was one of those days for Joe Kernan.
Kernan, then a naval flight officer, had just endured 11 months as a prisoner of war toward the end of the Vietnam War. But on this early spring morning, Kernan and 67 other former POWs were at Hanoi’s Gia Lam Airport. They were escorted by Air Force officials to a waiting C-141 transport plane.
“We got aboard and taxied out and started to roll,” Kernan said. “When the pilot said, ‘Wheels are in the well’ that’s when everybody went nuts. A big hoot and holler went up.”
For Kernan, the former South Bend mayor and Indiana governor, it was the end of a long ordeal.
Kernan followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and father when he enlisted in the Navy in the spring of 1969.
“I had decided I wanted to join the Navy and I wanted to fly,” he said. “It was the opportunity to do something I wanted to do instead of sitting around and waiting to get drafted.”
After completing aviation officer candidate school in Florida and navigation training in Georgia, Kernan was given his wings and assigned to a flight squadron. He spent more than a year training aboard his RA-5C Vigilante reconnaissance aircraft before he was assigned to a fleet squadron and deployed to Vietnam in January 1972 aboard the USS Kitty Hawk.
“We did two things. We did road reconnaissance, which was searching for enemy traffic primarily along the Ho Chi Minh trail,” Kernan said. “We’d bring our film back to the ship, it would be developed and if there was traffic that merited some kind of attention we would have other aircraft that would go after those targets.
“The second thing we did was bomb damage assessment. That was to determine whether a target had been sufficiently destroyed or whether we needed to go back and hit it again.”
On May 7, 1972, on Kernan’s 26th combat mission, his RA-5C Vigilante took off with its F-4 Phantom fighter escort for a bomb damage assessment run. After the assessment, squadron commanders asked Kernan to do some road reconnaissance along Vietnam’s Highway 1, the main highway.
“We came over our target, it was a truck park, a staging area for troops and tanks and trucks. We took pictures of that target and as we continued down Highway 1 we were about halfway through our mission and got hit by anti-aircraft fire,” Kernan recalled. “We got hit in the tail. The nose pitched down violently. We came right out of it.
“As we rolled wings level, the nose pitched down again and we were pointed at the ground. I look at the altimeter I had — 2,900 feet — I made the decision to eject not knowing anything other than I didn’t want to ride it in.”
The cockpit filled with light and Kernan was flung at forces approaching 23Gs from the aircraft, rendering him unconscious from the force of the ejection.
He landed in a small village.
“When I got up, people were coming from everywhere. I was surrounded and was getting kicked around,” he said. “I was carrying a .38 revolver with flares in it. So, you’re not going to start a land war with six rounds of small flares.”
Kernan was quickly subdued, stripped to his underwear and brought to Hanoi. He did time in two of the most infamous POW prisons of the war, the Hanoi Hilton and one dubbed “The Zoo,” he said.
There he would stay for 11 months, until the peace agreements were signed, the C-141s allowed in to remove the former prisoners.
For seven weeks, Kernan was listed as missing in action.
The first month, Kernan was kept in isolation. Eventually, another prisoner was brought in with him. The two discreetly talked.
“He said, ‘Your escort lost you guys and you’re presumed dead.’ That was the worst day of my life,” Kernan said. “I assumed my family thought I was dead, the Navy thought I was dead and if everybody thinks I’m dead there’s no reason for these guys to keep me alive. It wasn’t until three months later I found out my family knew I was alive.”
Kernan’s path home came through the Philippines, Hawaii and eventually Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C. After 90 days’ leave, Kernan spent another 18 months in the Navy even though he could have gotten out at any time.
“Wouldn’t trade it for anything,” he said. “I loved it. Made great friends.”
He’s spent the past four decades observing his shoot-down day as a nod to those less fortunate the more than 58,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who never made it out of Vietnam alive.
“Every May 7, I play golf with friends,” Kernan said. “Of the things I missed in Vietnam what I missed most was pizza and beer on Friday nights. So after playing golf I go to Rocco’s, eat pizza and drink some beer.
“I’ve been doing that a long time now. It’s a day when it could have gone the other way, very easily and with greater probability. With flight crews in Vietnam that got shot down, three out of four didn’t come home.”
Kernan said it’s hard to believe it’s been 40 years.
“Some days it seems like it was 100 years ago. Some days it feels like last week,” he said. “I got the big break. I have no regrets, no second thoughts about the things I’ve done over the last 40 years.
“I count my blessings. The odds are that I wouldn’t be here. If I’d waited to eject another second, to punch out, I wouldn’t be here.”
Fertility, Effulgence and the North Dining Hall Diet
No one ever has heard of science taking up the impossible challenge of replicating the magnificent, Great ’68. But in this serious time, the need has arisen. While we do have the sadness of deaths among us, we seem not to have any attributable to the corona virus. The universal resistance to the awful disease suggests that we are worth study for more than our intelligence, our muscularity and our attraction for beautiful women. If they are able to replicate us for additional research, the epidemiologists may discover that a diet rich in saltpeter during the years of early adulthood can provide a lifelong resistance to serious disease. Also, despite its reputation, saltpeter seems to have no effect on our fecundity (nor effulgence, in John O’Connor‘s case). Note the prodigious fertility of great-grandparents Mike Baroody and Muff and the five offspring, including triplet daughters, of Rich Rogers and Pat.
Correspondence from two classmates living in Australia should allay the frequent complaint that class news is too Chicago-centric. Mike Crutcher, who is now in Perth, Australia after the loss of his visa caused interruption of the missionary work he and his wife carry out in China, sent a link to a provocative podcast wrapped around a controversial letter to President Trump from a former Papal Nuncio: https://youtu.be/RdTRPOvBYsA. Charlie Stevenson, surfaced in a Joe Hale email string that began with Mike Moore and gained heft as it added the names of Keenan Hall friends, including roommate Tom Voglewede, now retired from optometrist practice. Retired professor Charlie lives with his Irish wife Aideen in Cairns, across the continent from Mike, another former Texan. See our blog www.ndclass1968.com.
Mike Moore, who found Charlie and cranked up his rusty Notre Dame communication skills, received this summary of the missing years:
“My life has been far less settled than yours, it seems, and trying to summarise 50 years in a paragraph is hard. There are so many essential facts and events that have to be glossed over or left out altogether.
“Still, this is the bare bones. I left Notre Dame in the summer of 1967, with the intention of working for a year to earn some money and then returning. As things turned out, I ended up in the Army for 3 years, stationed in Germany from Jan ’68 to Aug ’70. We might have been there at the same time. When I got out of the army, I stayed in Europe. I went to Ireland and did an Honours B.A. and an MA in The English Language and Medieval English and Scandinavian Literature from University College Dublin. I taught there as a tutor and then as a Lecturer and, in between, also taught as a Lecturer for a year at Trinity College Dublin. In 1976 I moved to Durham in the north of England, where I taught in Durham University until 1981, with a year (1979-80) as a research fellow at the University of Newcastle-on-Tyne (20 miles north of Durham). Between Jan 1981 and Sep 1983, I lived in Dublin, doing various jobs and trying to get Irish citizenship (my US citizenship made it harder for me to secure a permanent University post in Europe). In Sep 1983 I accepted a lectureship in the English Department at Monash University, Melbourne Australia. My Irish wife, Aideen Kelly, and I married in Melbourne in May 1984. Unfortunately, we are unable to have children and an attempt to adopt came to nothing. Aideen worked in television in Ireland and later in Melbourne, as a production manager in the Drama Department at the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission – the public broadcaster here). After 20+ years, we both needed a change and less stress, so we took early retirements in July 2004 and moved to Cairns, a tropical city in Far North Queensland, where Aideen has a nephew who’s a doctor in the local main hospital. Since we arrived in Australia, we’ve done a lot of international travelling. While my parents and Aideen’s mother were still alive, we visited them in Texas and in Dublin every 2nd year or so. My parents died in 2012, mom in Feb and dad in Apr, and between 2010 and 2012, I spent about 8 months total (6 different trips) in Texas helping to look after them (since, being retired, I could). Aideen’s mom died in the early 2000s. We’ve been around the world 4 or 5 times, visited every continent except Africa and Antarctica, as well as exploring most of Australia. Now we are settled into a sedentary tropical lifestyle here in Holloways Beach (a suburb of Cairns), with a beach on the Coral Sea a few hundred metres to our east and rainforest (ie., jungle) covered hills a few kilometres to the west. This time of year – our winter / dry season – the minimum temp is 18 -20 degrees C (mid 60s F) and the max is mid-20s C (low 80s F), with low humidity. Our summer / wet season is humid and hot, though the sea keeps our high temps to the low 90s. Not a bad climate for old fogies like us.” (email@example.com)
Mike Wolf and Ken DiLaura sent notes that predated the quarantine time and now seem descriptive of another epoch: “Jim Ewing and Bonnie, Ken DiLaura and Ronnie and Mike Wolf and Mary (SMC ‘68) were able to play some golf, enjoy some dinners and catch up on old times in Fort Myers and Naples this winter before the virus shut down festivities. Jim summers in Illinois, Ken in Grosse Pointe, MI and the Wolfs in Williamsport, PA.”
Walt Moxham had disappointment and hope in his email: “Our Vietnam Veteran Chapter’s efforts to have Rocky Bleier and his play brought to Western New York on August 8th has fallen victim to Covid -19. Very upsetting as I was looking forward to finally paying Rocky back for his appearances with our Vietnam Veteran’s Photo Shows in 1990 with a Wilson, NY fishing trip. And having Tom Brislin and me show him Wilson’s beautiful Lake Ontario sunsets against the Toronto skyline.”
Mike Daher, shown in yearbook photo, died June 26, 2020
When General Program member Mike Daher died of cancer June 26, 2020, he was nearing retirement after 40 years as a professor of English and Humanities at Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Michigan. The affection expressed on the school’s website resembles the impact of Professor Frank O’Malley‘s life on the Notre Dame community. For example, a student wrote: “Dr. Daher leaves behind an empty space that is hard to fill. But it’s also true that he leaves behind a legacy . . . in the form of the magnificent impact that he has left on so many students. For this impact, I’m truly grateful.” For photos and memorials, please see: https://www.hfcc.edu/news/2020/mike-daher-remembrances-hfc-community
John Walsh wrote: “Mike (“Arch”) McCarthy died on July 16 at his brother Patrick’s farm outside Rock Springs, Wisconsin, near Baraboo. He had been living there since his wife, Nora, passed away only weeks after our 50th Reunion in 2018. Mike excelled as a pre-med major at Notre Dame and had an active practice of psychiatry in the Washington, D.C., area after medical school in Chicago. Mike was a lifelong friend. We stood shoulder-to-shoulder in our kindergarten class picture (with Brian Sullivan) in 1952. Mike and I roomed together for all four of our years as undergrads, and for three of those years Joe Brennan joined the mix. For senior year, Tom McKenna, Tom Figel andMike Hampsey joined to make a sixsome in a house on Hill Street down the hill from the then-Senior Bar. Known as “Arch” by almost all his fellow students, Mike rarely shared that the moniker was a nickname from the arches prescribed for his basketball shoes during his years as a high school hoopster. In 1963-64, he and I were two of the starting five on Fenwick’s lightweights division team that went 25-4 and won that year’s Chicago Catholic League championship. After retiring from the practice of psychiatry, Mike took up oil painting as a hobby. Mike and Nora did not have any children..”
May you, your families and your friends be safe. Please see www.ndclass1968.com and send news to: Tom Figel, 1054 West North Shore, Apt. 3E, Chicago, IL 60626, tel. 773-764-4898, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Born January 26, 1946. Passed away June 26, 2020 from cancer. Michael died at home surrounded by family. He was husband of Nancy (Henry) Daher, father of Julia, Margaret, and Matthew Daher, stepfather of Ann Chrapkiewicz and Elaine Lande, grandfather of Freya, Forrest, Lynn, and Alex, and brother of Donald and Douglas. He was a lifelong resident of Grosse Pointe and a deeply committed public servant and educator. He dedicated his career to creating as many educational opportunities as possible for his students as an English professor at Wayne State University and at Henry Ford College, where he taught for nearly 40 years. His industriousness, compassion and vibrant mind were admired and appreciated by his students, colleagues, family and friends. He will be remembered for his pursuit of knowledge and adept ability to connect with the world around him and those he cared about through his love of language and literature. Warm remembrances of him by current and former colleagues and students at Henry Ford College can be found here: https://www.hfcc.edu/news/2020/mike-daher-remembrances-hfc-community
(Class of 1968 notes submitted April, 2020 for publication in Notre Dame Magazine, approximately June, 2020)
We know social distancing, don’t we? We know the disappointment of St. Mary’s women abruptly canceling Friday night dates, the misery of pointless Rathskellar circling, the envy as lovely Barat or Xavier students alighted from their busses and rushed past us to the likes of fortunate Tom Gibbs or our charismatic future Class President Tom Weyer. There were other exceptions, men such as Rocky Bleier, Dave Martin, Dan Harshman and Jim Smithberger, whose athleticism complemented their good looks. There were those who self-medicated and married during senior year: Pat Hermann, Mike Baroody, Jay Schwartz. In those days, social distancing had another hardship: many had to endure it in forced triples, for this was in the time before rooms meant suites with kitchenettes. We survived then, and we are surviving now.
Joe Blake, former Marine officer, triathlete, grandfather, sent a photo of a project he took on during the early days of the national lockdown: the baking of an apple pie.
Just before the lockdown curtain fell in Florida, Bob Brady and his friend Kathleen hosted a dinner for ten in his Naples home. Neighbors Jeff Keyes and Meg were there, as were Will Dunfey and Joan, Elise Stephens Reeder, Julie Ann Bodner, Tom Figel and Nancy Carlin. Anyone expecting to find Bob and Jeff at the beach each day, busy with metal detectors in search of coins, maybe competing for same with other Naples winter visitors Chris Murphy, Bob Ptak and Paul Dunn, would be wrong. To their own amazement, too, Bob and Jeff have a regimen of daily tennis and golf. Bob’s friend Kathleen flavored that one day with a 37-mile bike ride. Somehow, Crossfit evangelist Mike Burgener is having an effect from Southern California.
When her winter sojourn ended in late March, the Boston Globe quoted Joan Dunfey’s observation that the corona virus could be “devastating” in Florida because “Everybody’s over 70.” No doubt, Florida’s median age rose when Joan, Will and the others returned to northern homes.
Prior to the quarantine and prior to Rich Roger‘s Easter note, Brian Sullivan and Nancy met for unmasked dinner in Bal Harbour, FL with Mike Ryan and Rich Rogers. While watching Easter Mass online from the Vatican, Brian passed away. John Walsh and Dia, the news of Brian’s death fresh, were unpacking boxes at their new condominium home when John came across a first grade photo of himself flanked by Brian Sullivan and Mike McCarthy.
Jim O’Rourke, Mendoza Business School Professor of Management, endorsed the leadership of Queen Elizabeth upon her address to an English people grappling with the corona virus pandemic. Jim’s remarks, carried in an Associated Press article published globally, included: “Now, more than ever, the people of the U.K. must have someone to reply upon, someone whose word they can trust.”
When Chris Murphy praised Drs. Fred Ferlic and Steve Anderson in a message sent widely over the Bryan Dunigan network, the email not only produced additional testaments to both physicians, it sparked a clarification from modest Steve: “I had been doing administrative work as the CMO at St. Joe’s in Mishawaka until July, 2018. This was long enough to ensure that Fred avoided Stark Act investigations between his orthopedic business and his Tayco Brace sales. I then retired from full time administrative work and began spending five months annually in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, with winters down south in South Bend. Inspired by the frenetic work of my ND ’69 colleague, Mark Walsh, who is doing both emergency department and hospitalist work at St. Joe, I went back into working one shift a week as a hospitalist at St. Joe this past November.” A note from Bryan Dunigan soon followed: “Who goes to South Bend for the winter?”
As a member of the medical team addressing the corona virus problem, Dr. Fred Ferlic has advised Dr. Anthony Fauci that the Tayco Brace requires additional testing before application against the disease.
Email from Dan Kimball, Port Townsend, WA, indicates that ND68 has good representation on the Notre Dame Senior Advisory board: e.g., Dan is chairman and, ex officio, sits on the Notre Dame Alumni Advisory Board; Tom McGrath is Rick Gutowski‘s successor representing the Southeast Region. Dan’s year regularly includes game attendance with Herb Kaler and Ken Larson. Ready to golf and visit for the benefit of scholarships for veterans and children of veterans? Watch www.ndsa.undgroup.org for the Warren Golf Course, Thursday, September 17th sign-up information and raffle tickets.
Tom Dorsel, on Hilton Head Island, SC, has provided the guitar/vocal Irish music for St. Patrick’s Day at Reilley’s North End Pub for the last three years. Tom claims he learned the songs from the juke box at Sweeney’s, while there with Kevin Doyle, Tom Duxbury and Jim LaTerza.
The Observer student newspaper dipped into its archives for a November, 1966 Dennis O’Dea article about the arrest and beating Brian McTigue suffered as a civil rights worker in Georgia during summer, 1966. Brian, now a lawyer advocating for clients protesting unfair banking treatment, works in Washington, DC.
Even with Tom Gibbs‘ blunt recommendation of a live-streamed viewing because of virus concerns, Sheila Gates Gibbs’ funeral brought a crowd to St. Luke’s, River Forest, IL on March 18, 2020. “The Great ’68 was well-represented,” said Tom Weyer. “Rick McPartlin, Kathy McCann. . .” Sheila, the Barat grad who became Tom’s wife and enthusiastic center of myriad class gatherings, had not let her illness diminish any family or class life.
Easter had additional news from Bryan Dunigan: his Badin Hall roommate Mick McKeon, who suffers from cancer, had entered home hospice care in Butte, MN. There was hardly time to say good-by, something Brian McManus managed with Facetime before Mick died April 15th. Please remember Mick, his wife Carol and their two children in your prayers.
Mick McKeon from the 1968 yearbook. Bryan Dunigan says the room they shared in Badin Hall has become part of a stairwell.
On January 17, 2020, Tom Condon’s sister Pat, a celebrated, longtime financial manager for the government of her native New London, CT, succumbed to an illness resembling ALS, one that had caused her six years of intense suffering. See a following post.
Paul Zalesky wrote of the sudden January 19, 2020 death of Richard Jurjevic. At Notre Dame, said Paul, ”Rick and I worked, as student part-time technicians under the direction of the department head, in the Aerospace facility studying (under confidentiality) fluid dynamics for various-shaped vehicles that evolved into the Apollo mission selections. We used what, at the time, was pretty unique high speed cinematography in the smoke wind tunnel.” Found at www.ndclass1968.com, Rich’s obituary celebrates a classmate who figured significantly in his family, his work, his parish and his community. See a following post.
Please pray for our deceased classmates and their families. And please send news and photos to: Tom Figel, 1054 West North Shore, Apt. 3E, Chicago, IL 60626, tel. 773-764-4898, email@example.com. The class blog www.ndclass1968.com has additional news.