40 1940 Commencement

Hello members, family, and friends of the Class of 1940! Hope this issue finds you happy and healthy. I have not heard from anyone in some time. If you have any story or memory pertaining to our 1940 classmates please reach out. I would love to connect, reminisce, and share your stories. I recently found a copy of the Commencement Program from graduation—June 2, 1940. Graduation took place in the University gymnasium and started with a grand processional march by the University Band. Rev. J. Hugh O’Donnell, CSC, (acting president) conferred degrees, and then the commencement address was delivered by the Hon. David Worth Clark, United States senator from Idaho. The concluding blessing was by the Most Rev. John Joseph Cantwell, Archbishop of Los Angeles. To think of everything going on in the world at that time, I can imagine what an interesting commencement address that must have been. So many of our class members went all over the world immediately following graduation. The stories of bravery and dedication that I have heard about our class have been nothing short of astonishing—not to mention, all the careers, travels, and stories that unfolded in the years after leaving campus. It is such an honor for me to represent this amazing group of graduates. Again, if you have any story, whether your own or from a loved one, please reach out. I would love to hear from you! Go Irish! — Rebecca (Antas) Smith ’08; 1460 Spero Court, Wheaton IL 60187; 630-254-4485; rebecca.antas@gmail.com


41 Class SecretaryMeg Julian ’03, ’06JD;

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


42 Class SecretaryAnn Schanuel;



43 Class Secretary A. Robert Masters ’05; 1906 E. Madison St., South Bend IN 46617; res 574-904-8315; bus 574-234-0121; armasters@nfmlaw.com


44 Class SecretaryLaura (Julian) Fraser ’00;

1021 Royal Bombay Ct., Naperville IL 60563; 773-255-9843; lejfraser@outlook.com


45 Only the Happy Thoughts 

Happy new year wishes to all the Class of ’45 gentlemen. I called James (Jim) Griffin, speaking mostly with his wife, Jane. Jim is adjusting to life after a stroke. He and his family are very fortunate to have wonderful support. It can be uncomfortable discussing strokes and the aftermath. As Jane described there are good days and not-so-good days. Jim and Jane will gladly take both. The love of family and friends can never be expressed enough. I next called Captain Bob, Robert (Bob) Thomas. Basically, Bob is doing extremely well, still sharp as a tack but uses an electric wheelchair to get around his complex due to neuropathy. The third phone call was to William (Bill) Wrape, which is always an uplifting chat. His philosophy of continually thanking God for his wonderful life brings joy to all who will listen. Bill realizes that though all have not been equally blessed, by focusing on the positive, the negative can be left behind. His nightly ritual is reflecting and thanking Jesus for his many gifts. The Navy and WWII brought Bill to ND, as they did many. Fortunately for him, it was toward the end of the war and his experiences, both at school and war, helped create the man he became. The “old man,” I should add, as the last remaining 20 classmates are all 95 or older. At this age, health is not usually positive. No longer are days spent playing tennis, pickleball, biking, golfing, eating out, and doing all the activities that we think of in retirement. In fact, the highlight of each day might just be getting a shower. Each day can be long and monotonous if allowed. Or one can be lucky enough to surround themselves with the love of family and friends and reminisce about the good times, leaving the negative in the past. So Bill looks back daily, and nightly, and remembers only the good. My father did the same, trying not to dwell on the negatives of life, but instead trying to count all the blessings in their life they were given. A simple phone call from a friend/stranger might just make their day overwhelmingly brighter as it opens up the opportunity for a simple conversation and gives an opportunity to reminisce out loud once again. May all the gentlemen of ’45 enjoy a peaceful 2023, surrounded by lots of love and peace. — Melissa Erkins Rackish ’77; 1224 Campbell St., Williamsport PA 17701; 570-971-2296; mrackish@comcast.net


46 Class Secretary Paul Taggett;



47 Son of ND

I am saddened to report the recent passing of Dr. Stratton R. Easter on Aug. 18, 2022. We pray for the repose of Stratton’s soul and for his family and loved ones. Please keep in touch with your stories and memories, as I always look forward to hearing from you. Go Irish! — Eileen Z. Surprenant ’09, ’15; emzander@gmail.com


48 Sad News

I am saddened to report the passing of Victor M. “Vic” Gutschenritter on Oct. 14, 2022. We pray for the repose of Vic’s soul and for his family and loved ones. Please keep in touch with your stories and memories, as I always enjoy hearing from you. Go Irish! — Eileen Z. Surprenant ’09, ’15; emzander@gmail.com


49 Good Reads

A January visit with daughter Susanne in Pittsburgh occasioned lunch with Sam Hazo, a fellow ’49 English major and friend who (like fellow English major and friend the late Bill Pfaff) holds both an ND BA and honorary doctorate. Much published—poetry, fiction, drama, Pittsburgh memoir, and translations—Sam added The Less Said, the Truer: New and Selected Poems, 2016–2022 last year and has received yet another honor this year, Janine Molinaro’s biography, Before the Pen Runs Dry (Franciscan U Press). Both are good reads, I can attest. James Edward Houghton, College of Engineering professor emeritus, passed away at 100 on Oct. 22 in Mishawaka. A World War II veteran, he taught at ND for 40 years. Jim was preceded in death by his wife of 65 years, Margaret, sisters Mary Corwin and Jane Marnocha, brother Ernest, half-brothers Jack and Richard Delanty, and grandson Paul Koch. He is survived by brothers Harold and Bob and sister Melissa; sons Jim (Celeste) and Richard (Marsha Oates); grandchildren Elizabeth (Edward) Thompson and Matthew, Andrew, and Charlotte Houghton, and four great-grandchildren. — Bill Slavick; whslavick@gmail.com