class notes

1940s

40 Class Secretary Rebecca Antas ’08;

 

505 N. Lakeshore Drive, No. 3401, Chicago IL 60611; 630-254-4485; rebecca.antas@gmail.com

 

41 What You Are

 

Summer is here and I hope it finds you in good health and enjoying some sunshine (or for those of you in the South, staying cool!) I regret to share that I heard from Barbara Gerra that her father Ralph A. Gerra passed away in March. Ralph had appeared in these notes a few times in recent years and Barbara had been in touch as Ralph re-connected with recently deceased Jack Nace, and as the family reminisced with Ralph over Dome yearbooks and Ralph’s ND Valedictory address, which I’ll come back to in a minute. Ralph was born and raised in Brooklyn before coming to ND. From here he went on to Columbia Law School, but left shortly to enlist in the Navy, where he was on active duty from 1942 to 1946, serving in Alaska. He returned to finish law school in 1947 and embarked on his legal career in Manhattan, first with Wilkie Farr & Gallagher, then Cravath Swaine & Moore before joining Bethlehem Steel as tax counsel, remaining there from 1953 to 1982. He “retired” back to private practice as special counsel at Lord Day & Lord for five years. Ralph married his wife, also Barbara, in 1947 and celebrated nearly 65 years of marriage before Barbara’s passing. They had seven children and eight grandchildren. Ralph was also an avid golfer, as a member at Saucon Valley club in PA, enjoyed tennis and squash, and had a love for historical biographies. Now, about that Valedictory Address, a note from Ralph’s daughter: “I’ll share a story my father told me about writing his valedictory address. He wanted to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, ‘What you are speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say,’ but the English professor assigned to review his speech thought a quote from Emerson was out of place and recommended instead a quote from Christopher Dawson, the English Catholic historian, who said, ‘Hence the Christian life is not an ideal for the mind and conscience alone; it is a new life that embraces both body and spirit in a vital synthesis. It is not merely an order of faith; it is the order of charity fulfilled in action.’” — Meg Julian ’03, ’06JD; 11 E. 36th St., No. 603, New York NY 10016; 646-246-5480; megjulian@gmail.com

 

42 Flight of Years

 

Beloved classmate Bill Morrow passed away March 9. He served in the Army Air Corps in WWII, stateside and in the Pacific. He began his career in the metals industry and continued that path for 48 years. Bill is predeceased by his wife, Jo, and survived by four daughters. His obituary read, “Beyond this vale of tears, there is life above, unmeasured by the flight of years; and all that life is love. -- James Montgomery.” The Class of 1942 celebrates its 76th anniversary. How sweet it’s been, and its fragrant sweetness lingers. Dearest classmates, please send me stories about your life, past or present. I will kick off with my story that was published in the New York Times in October 2016. Capt. Mark Vanhoenacker's, “The 747's Final Approach” practically commands me to tell my story of piloting that plane. As background, I am a 95-year-old former Naval aviator, Marine Corps second lieutenant in 1944, and now a retired captain. Back then, I had 1,300 hours “stick time” piloting single-engine and twin-engine bombers. In 1985, I was working as advertising director for Scientific American magazine and happened to fly from London to New York on BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corp). I was seated in first class, first row on a 747. The plane had reached 31,999 feet altitude, cruising at 400 miles an hour, when the captain came down from his cockpit to mingle with the passengers. Our names were labeled on the seats and the captain took the open seat next to me. “Ah, Mr. Kirby, how are you enjoying the flight?” “Very much, captain, always, with British pilots. I taught them at Pensacola during the war.” “I say! Would you care to take my seat for a while?” I don't remember saying yes or thank you, only rushing to the gangway upstairs to the cockpit where he introduced me to the two co-pilots and flight engineer. Warmly welcomed, the first officer offered me the captain’s seat asking me to take over. The control wheel was locked, I discovered, and I mentioned that. The co-pilot laughed and said, “go ahead and break it. You know how.” I turned 15 degrees, going right, and settled back to the original altitude of 31,000. Everyone in the cockpit smiled approval and applauded gently. I was startled by how easily the plane responded to the controls. Barely touching the hydraulic assisted controls, the 747 could be moved more easily than a baby stroller. My old students were now the masters. — John Kirby; 110 Upland Road, Kentfield CA 94904; res/fax 415-925-0544; cell 415-272-4016; or Ann Schanuel; annjolene2@aol.com

 

43 Class Secretary Bob Masters ’05;

 

202 Remington Court North Drive, Apt. C, Mishawaka IN 46545; res 574-904-8315; bus 574-234-0121; a.robert.masters@gmail.com

 

44 Looking for Updates

 

As the old saying goes, no news is good news and I hope that is the case for my friends in this class. I would love to hear from you if you have any new great-grandchildren to report or memories from campus life to share with your classmates. Be well. — Laura (Julian) Fraser ’00; 989 Belaire Court, Naperville IL 60563; Tel: 773-255-9843; lejulian00@yahoo.com

 

45 Write a Letter and Receive Memories

 

I am sad to report the passing of Robert S. O’Brien. Bob was a member of the Naval ROTC program. After leaving ND he was assigned to the USS LMS in the Pacific. After the war, Bob began work for the O’Brien Lumber & Construction Co., later becoming president. Bob was an active church member and community philanthropist and non-profit organizer. He was named 1974 “Man of the Year” by the ND Club of Canton. Bob was involved in many organizations. One of his favorite institutions was Walsh U where he served on the advisory board. Bob received their distinguished service award in 2010. Bob and wife, Betty, had been married 67 years. They have three daughters and four sons, 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Bob is remembered by his family and community for “his quiet, thoughtful and generous spirit only being matched by his integrity and humility.” Dennis Scully contacted me looking for Jim Griffin. They met due to a high school basketball rivalry, becoming friends even though it started with Dennis’ New Trier team beating Jim’s Evanston team. Jim Griffin called to tell me of a long ago driving trip he and his wife, Jane, took through Idaho and described their great visit with Bob Erkins and my family. Jim also recalled his tennis team. In ’44 the undefeated ND Tennis team won the National Championship, shared with Miami and Texas. Jim’s team included Charles Samson ’47, a living legend of ND, Bill Tulley ’48, an All-American tennis and track star, and George Ratterman ’49, one of the last students earning letters in four sports who according to Frank Leahy was the greatest all-around athlete in the history of ND. John Drendel is still in Reno. He stated the two things that impacted his life the most, after family, were Notre Dame and the Navy. John has a long connection with ND, as his father at age 13 attended the school in 1870 and was taught by Father Sorin. This was when ND taught kindergarten through college. John lived under the Dome, literally, known then as Bronson Hall. After the war he started a law practice in Reno that grew into a 40-person legal firm handling cases throughout the West. John has one son who joined the firm. His two daughters and other son went into education. Bill Klem called remembering there were three classmates from Florida: J.D. Usina, Robert Erkins and himself. Bill commented that the Dome yearbook was printed their freshman year, and then not again until 1946 or 1947. To fill the gap, J.D. Usina produced the ROTC’s The Irish Pennant. You can find copies in the ND archives. J.D. Usina went on to become a Naval officer and ship captain. Congratulations to Bill and his wife, Jeanne, ’44SMC, who have been married 71 years and still reside in South Bend. Bill Klem and Bob Thomas emailed verifying the University Archives has the documented “Mare the Mare” story of the horse in Walsh. Not tattling as it is history, but John Kramer was the primary instigator. There is always one who keeps things lively. I received lovely letters from Joe Fisher and Bill Castle. Don Lundergan contacted me and said he is hoping to write. So, we have a cliff hanger. You will have to wait for the next issue as I’m out of space. — Melissa Erkins Rackish ’77; 1224 Campbell St., Williamsport PA 17701; 570-326-4289; mrackish@comcast.net

 

46 Wonderful Lives

 

Navy Cdr. Harold R. Outten, 92, passed away on Aug. 25, 2017 at Land O’Lakes FL. He retired in 1972 after enlisting as a seaman at age 18. He attended Rutgers U and graduated from ND with a degree in Naval Science. During his career, he served on seven ships and two shore stations. He also taught at the Naval War College, Newport RI. After retiring he was employed by RCA Services Co., Sylvania Electronics Products, and American Electronics Laboratories as a contract administrator. He married Jane Dougherty in 1952 and they had three children, four grandchildren and a great-granddaughter. Robert J. Hourigan, 91, of Barrington IL passed away on Jan. 8. He was preceded in death by June, his wife of 53 years. They had seven children, 16 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. He was born in Chicago and educated through the Catholic school system, De La Salle High School, ND and Loyola Law School. Bob was a Navy veteran and went on to practice personal injury law in Chicago, eventually opening his own law partnership that specialized in general civil practice, trial, and appellate practice in all courts. Donald Philip Siegel, 92, died Dec. 12, 2017 in Muskegon MI. He was born in Bellville IL. He attended Washington U in St. Louis before enlisting in the Navy in 1944 and transferring to ND. After graduating, he married Marilyn Jean Hatfield, his wife of 57 years, in South Bend. They had five children, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Donald served as an executive vice president in finance for Associates. He retired in 1987 and split his time between Oak Brook IL and Ft. Lauderdale until he moved to Michigan to be closer to his daughters. Don (aka Popsi) enjoyed gambling (especially on horse races), crossword puzzles, studying his finances, and ND football. James M. Diethelm MD, 93, died April 17 at Sunset Village, Sylvania OH. His wife, Helen, died Dec. 28, 2011. They had three children, nine grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. After graduating from ND, he graduated from the medical school at St Louis U and later joined his father in medical practice. He was released from the Navy and joined the Army Reserve. During the Korean War, he was stationed at Ft. Polk, where he served in the Medical Corps. Jim was an avid ND football fan and played golf whenever he could. He often bragged that he was called off the course at Inverness Country Club, just after he teed off, to deliver a baby. According to him, he drove quickly to St V’s with a police escort after being almost arrested for speeding, delivered the first baby and then a second baby. He also made a house call before returning to the course and joining his foursome for the second nine. So, the legend goes. — Paul Taggett; 10 W. Grove Ave., D15, Lake Wales FL 33853; paultaggett@gmail.com

 

47 Birthday Greetings

 

I caught Otto Shander on his 94th birthday. He didn’t want me to sing him happy birthday, but we shared a few good laughs. He claims to live out in the boondocks and doesn’t get around as much as he used to. He laments how difficult admission to the Golden Dome is for applicants these days, including those with alumni connections. I had a nice chat with James Nerad, who spent all four years at ND interrupted by several years in the Pacific Theater. He received his Naval commission at Cornell. He sounded well and wished his classmates good health. Classmates who will be missed include John Joseph Lennon, who passed away on Oct. 8. Born Jan. 12, 1925 in Chicago to Irish immigrants from County Mayo, John was the youngest of five children. Upon turning 18 in 1943, he joined the Navy and went to Notre Dame for training in the V-12 program until April 1944, followed by signalman school at Great Lakes Naval Air Station. From September 1944 to May 1946, he served on Liberty and APD ships in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, completing his service on Okinawa and in occupied Japan. Returning to Chicago, he graduated from Loyola U with BS degree in accounting and economics. In May 1951, he married Rose Vietzen with whom he had corresponded during the war. They moved to River Forest where he lived for the rest of his life. He worked as an accountant at various firms for 35 years, finishing his career at Stein Roe Farnham Mutual Funds. He was active in the American Legion, the St. Lazarus Society and several service organizations. He and Rose enjoyed traveling, and spending time in Florida, before her passing in 2002. He married Joyce Tasch Zurek in 2006. He had four children, nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Erving Wolf died on Feb. 6 in Palm Beach FL. Erving was born in Nebraska and raised in Cheyenne WY. He served as an officer in the Navy while stationed on Guam during WWII and received bachelor’s degrees from Northwestern and Notre Dame, and a law degree from Northwestern. He practiced law in Cheyenne but was soon drawn to the oil and gas industry. In 1951, the same year he married Joyce Mandel, he founded the Wolf Land Company, which later became the Inexco Oil Company. Under Erving's leadership, Inexco discovered Wyoming’s 200-million-barrel Hilight Oil Field and its four-trillion-cubic-foot Madden Gas Field, one of the largest natural gas reserves in the United States, as well as the Key Lake Uranium Mine in Saskatchewan, Canada, which once produced 15 percent of the world's uranium. Wolf and his wife assembled a collection of art whose breadth spans 18th and 19th American paintings, drawings, sculpture and furniture, as well as Chinese porcelains. In 1980, the couple endowed The Erving and Joyce Wolf Gallery at New York’s Metropolitan Museum for special exhibitions of American art. In 2001, the museum made him an honorary trustee. The couple also loaned and donated sculpture to the Denver Art Museum and to the National Gallery of Art. Erving appreciated beauty in its many forms and derived the most joy from sharing what he found beautiful with those he loved. He felt most at peace sitting on the porch of his house on his ranch in Ridgway CO, gazing upon the majestic Rockies, with a cup of black coffee and six newspapers in hand. When his health prohibited him from traveling west, he was often found in Central Park enjoying its beauty. His family will remember him for the depth of his gratitude and generosity. He is survived by Joy, his wife of 66 years, his two sons, and four grandchildren. I look forward to hearing news and stories from class members. Call or email me. — Michael Morris ’80; 949-433-8568; michaelmorris07@gmail.com

 

48 Farewell, Loyal Sons

 

I am sad to report the passing of several of our beloved classmates: Nicholas H. “Nick” Willett Sr. on Aug. 9, 2017; Robert G. “Bob” Smith on Feb. 11; Bernard J. “Bernie” Lynch on Feb. 12; and Brother Elmer Brummer, CSC, on Feb. 14. Please send updates and memories, as the class appreciates hearing from you. — Eileen Surprenant ’09, ’15; eileen.surprenant@gmail.com

 

49 DuLac Ladies

 

Over the years, we have witnessed countless ND athletic achievements. To me, and to many, the buzzer-beating national championship women’s basketball team is now at the top; none is better. Congratulations to the players, Coach McGraw and her staff. May their banner hang glorious in the Purcell for all time. Hugh Rafferty of Houston TX called to fill us in on some of his exploits. He knew that we were thirsting for news. He joined many of our classmates who have received the Legion of Honor award from the French government for meritorious service there in WWII. His volunteer work brought him the distinguished alumni award from his high school, St. Thomas. Hugh was proud to report that he and his wife Cathy celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in January. His career had to be blessed from the beginning. For two and a half years he lived next door to the Badin Hall rector, Father Ted. I got a Detroit Free Press obit of our classmate Bill Roney of Bloomfield Hills MI. It was sent by John Morgan. Bill had a distinguished career as a stockbroker. His firm was the largest independent New York Stock Exchange member in Michigan. Bill attended Mass daily and found time to serve as president of the Detroit ND Club, governor of the Midwest Stock Exchange and director of the Security Industry Association. His sons Michael and Brian are Domers heeding Bill’s admonition, “concerning college attendance you can go where you want, but I’m sending the check to South Bend.” John Morgan started at ND with us, laid out a bit, and returned to graduate a couple of years behind us. Our best wishes go out to our retiring Notre Dame Magazine liaison administrator, Nancy Sheets. Working with her was a pleasure. Welcome aboard to our new contact, Stephanie Washington. We look forward to working with her. — Joe O’Brien; 18120 Cloverleaf Drive, South Bend IN 46637; 574-271-8323; obie49nd@comcast.net