36 Remembering ND’s Oldest Alumnus

Joe Newman, Notre Dame’s oldest alumnus, passed away this summer at the age of 108. What a wonderful life Joe lived and what a wonderful person he was. Joe and his wife, Sophie, founded the Logan Center in South Bend for the developmentally disabled in honor of their daughter Rita, who had special needs. At 101, Joe ran for Congress in Sarasota FL as a write-in candidate. He kept up on current events and led a discussion group at his senior living center. Until the age of 106, Joe could be seen driving his fiancé, Anita, around town in his red Mercedes sports car. Being quarantined due to COVID did not prevent Joe from gathering with his friends to discuss current events. They gathered frequently for Zoom meetings broadcast from the Socrates Café. Joe, who was five years old when the 1918 flu hit, said COVID was just another problem we must get through. “You do what you need to do.” Joe had wanted to plan a 100th birthday party for Anita, but with the lockdown restrictions, he had to improvise. Anita was delighted to discover Joe had planned a wonderful party for her via Zoom. He was sought out by several news agencies for virtual interviews on his thoughts on turning 108, life changes during COVID, and the presidential impeachment proceedings. Radio Diaries Podcast had Joe and Anita interview each other for their Hunker Down Diaries segment. Their podcast won an award at the Third Coast International Audio Festival. They were told it was “like the Oscars, but for radio.” Joe’s message was “Don’t fear getting older, but look forward to every day, and leave the people you encounter happy to have been with you.” Rest in peace, Joe. It is with sadness that I also report the passing of Shelby Romere in Texas at the age of 107. Shelby played baseball at Notre Dame. He proudly displayed his framed team photo in his room at the senior living center where he resided. It was this photo that came to the attention of a visiting alumna, who, as mentioned in earlier Class Notes, was instrumental in having the baseball team send Shelby a box of baseball apparel, which he was thrilled to receive and proudly wore every day. Our sympathies to Shelby’s family. Shelby and Joe were the last surviving members of the Class of 1936. Marty Peters’ son wrote to share that his father, who passed away in 1997, played football and basketball during his years at Notre Dame. Marty would be proud to know that two of his grandsons graduated from Notre Dame: Patrick Peters ’02 and Michael Peters ’06. His great granddaughter, Susan Peters ’21, graduated this year. Go Irish. — Maureen McGinn; jwn176@aol.com


37 Class SecretaryKathleen Coverick ’08;



38 Class Secretary Meg Julian ’03, ’06JD;

804 Jersey Ave., Spring Lake NJ 07762; 646-246-5480; megjulian@gmail.com


39 Good Memories Make Great Stories

College is a formative experience, and the four years spent in the yellow-brick dorms just ashore from St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s Lakes have shaped many men and women through the years. So much attention is given to the students — their development, growth, and subsequent achievements — that it could be easy to overlook the professors, rectors, coaches, and alumni who guide the journey. Mark Mitchell ’96 has again opened the archives of his grandfather Mark J. Mitchell Jr. to share with us another wonderful column highlighting a few of these special folks and how they impacted the men of 1939. For a time, many legendary teachers inhabited not just the classrooms, but also the dormitories. One of the most famous of these “bachelor dons” was Frank O’Malley ’32, who lived in Sorin Hall for decades. Though only a few years older, O’Malley was already a legend, a raconteur and intellectual who enjoyed a late-night chat before an early-morning Mass. Even if you didn’t have to be awake for class, there would be a knock on the door which meant you had to serve Mass for “Fatha.” Paul Fenlon ’19 taught the men how to write short stories and, with any luck, novels. Known simply as “The Professor,” Fenlon lived in a turret room across from Sacred Heart in Sorin Hall. One student on whom The Professor and O’Malley had the greatest influence was Edwin O’Connor. When he was a student, O’Connor could be relied on for great chats well after the rector called “lights out” and cut the power to the dorm. O’Connor had candles that he kept under his mattress and a bottle of whisky, “not the good stuff, but good enough.” Ed could keep a candlelit room alive with the stories he told. He went on to write The Last Hurrah, which was turned into a film starring Spencer Tracy and would later win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Rev. Thomas “Red” Brennan, CSC, ’23 was known to have deadly aim when flinging a matchbook across the classroom to keep a dozing young scholar awake. This invariably aroused both uproarious laughter from the class and sheepish goodwill from the sleeper and gave Ed O’Connor a good supply of matches for his candles. Decades before a certain Mr. Holtz became known, hailed, and honored with waving arms as “Lou,” Elmer Layden ’25 was a student favorite. Knute K. Rockne ’14 might have been given the honorific “Rock,” but Elmer was always just Elmer. He was both head football coach and athletic director. He was known to take struggling students under his wing, whether fullback or philosopher, and was invariably kind and available. Mark Mitchell’s diary has been a solid source of wisdom and history. His words regarding this mentor are aspirations for every Notre Dame grad: “Elmer is every man’s ideal of a true gentleman.” Thank you, Mark, for sharing these stories. We will do our best to keep this column going so long as there is news or other information to share. Please write. Go Irish. — Seth O’Donnell ’04; 17 Marion St., East Greenwich RI, 02818, 603-828-7335; seth.odonnell@gmail.com