50 Years Ago, The Door was Unlocked
(In addition to the main note, please read the following posts: deaths of Geoff Gillette and Tom Knowles, correspondence from Mike Crutcher and Joe Ferry, contents suggestions Richard Pivnicka sent to Notre Dame Magazine, and for a brief time, Tom Fitzharris’ new work at the NYC Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the link to Jay Schwartz’s blog One More Thing. . .)
When Honest John Weyer, father of Class President Tom Weyer, pushed at an unlocked Engineering Building classroom door fifty years ago, he only meant to find shelter for a pre-game celebration. At the time, some of us had hair, a military future, and hopes of girlfriends who didn’t come from the center of magazines. What Honest John opened turned into a tradition. Now that tailgate has abutting-the-stadium space arranged by Matt Walsh and tended by a squad of South Bend and Michiana classmates. While no one seems in need of help such as the pampers of early parenthood, we are enjoying the time before we need adult diapers along with our fellowship.
In the meantime, the tailgate is gloriously appointed with classmates.
John Walsh and his grandson Vasant Banks were with Roger Guerin, Dennis Toolan and Mary Lou, Tom Gibbs, Matt Walsh and Joyce, Fred Ferlic (the Tayco Boot entrepreneur), Bryan Dunigan, Mike Ryan and Ned Buchbinder at the New Mexico game. The Virginia game drew those friends plus Bob Ptak, Steve Anderson, Tom Durkin and visitors from beyond the Midwest horizons: Ed Lewis, Lloyd Adams, Pete Adams, and Bill Gormley from New Jersey, Rich Rogers and Pat from New York, Tom Condon from Connecticut, Bill Kenealy from Maryland, about three dozen classmates, none in need of anything but friendship and laughs.
Ed Lewis remembered the work required each of the game Saturdays: “Most don’t know that Gene Cavanaugh and Fred Ferlic arrive at the stadium parking lot at 6:30 AM to hold spaces near to Matt’s parking slots. Then the Chicago contingent (Tom Weyer, Tom Gibbs, Bryan, et al ) arrives. They all bring food and drinks for anyone who shows up to enjoy. And, this generosity has inconceivably gone on for 50 years! Wow.”
Ken DiLaura and Veronica made a May Spain and Portugal river cruise the time for their own reunion with Mike Coleman and Gloria. In San Francisco, the Hon. Czech Consul General Richard Pivnicka hosted graduates from the McCloskey New Venture competition winner Resonado at the time of the Louisville game. Rick frequently sees John O’Connor as well as Dennis Withers, who comes from Atlanta for visits with his Napa Valley daughter Boo Withers Berkstoffer.
Mike Crutcher wrote from China, his home since 2006: “Came here to do ‘humanitarian’ work. Met my wife in 2007, married in 2008. Education is our mainstay, mostly teaching English. A little background on me : after ND … USAF/ANG pilot, then lived in DC for a while , back home to Big D, real estate business there , age 31 my ‘born again’ experience which radically changed my lifestyle and priorities. Was led to go to graduate school to study theology/psychology.” In his note, Mike shouted out to best ND buddies Dave Martin and Jan, Dennis Withers, Chris Murphy, Rocky Bleier, Dan Harshman, Steve Anderson, Jay Jordan.
Recognition of Philadelphian Joe Ferry’s first return to campus two years ago awakened a hunger in him for repeat attention and a second return for the 50th reunion. The note Joe wrote (found in full in a following post) has pushed him to the fore with the labeling of John O’Connor as “effulgent” and with this sample: “In 1998, my wife and I went to Annapolis to celebrate our wedding anniversary and my birthday. The Naval Academy Class of ’68 was celebrating its 30th Anniversary and it was headquartered at our hotel. My wife alerted me to this and, pointing to a man who was about my age, said ‘That guy looks like he was in that class.’ I approached the man and asked ‘Are you a member of the Class of 1968?’ He said that he was. I told that I was, also but ‘not here, Notre Dame.’ The entire weekend the Navy Class of ’68 welcomed me like I was one of them because of the ND-Navy relationship.”
Joe Hale called attention to the recognition of Tom Culcasi’s son Phil, an alum who was one of four Illinois educators named in a White House list of the nation’s superior math and science teachers.
September, 2019 news included the sadness of two deaths: Geoff Gillette, well-known for his work with the band Captain Electric and then his career in music production, and Tom Knowles, one of the Fenwick High School classmates who expanded the Oak Park, IL friendships with myriad Notre Dame ones. Please remember them and their families, and please read the memories in posts that follow this one.
Please send news and photos to: Tom Figel, 1054 West North Shore, Apt. 3E, Chicago, IL 60626, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 773-764-4898.