Deaths in the Family

Author: Notre Dame Magazine

FATHER ANTHONY J. LAUCK, CSC, ‘42, whose statue of Our Lady of the University welcomes visitors to campus at the Main Circle and who was a pioneering figure in art at Notre Dame and within the Holy Cross community, died in April at age 92. His many campus works also include a massive replica of his statue of the Visitation on the south side of the Eck Visitors’ Center, and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart’s statue of Blessed Brother Andre Bessette, CSC, which was also created from a smaller original. He designed the panoramic stained glass windows that form the southern exposure of the chapel and library at Moreau Seminary, where he lived for almost 50 years. “Father Tony,” as he was known, was born in Indianapolis and earned a diploma from an art school in his hometown before entering Holy Cross as a postulant in 1937. He was ordained in 1946 and joined the art faculty four years later. Up to that point, the practice and exhibition of art had not been given much attention at Notre Dame. He slowly changed that through his own sculpting, as head of the art department from 1960-67, and as the first true professional director of the University’s art gallery from 1962 until his retirement in 1974. Some consider him the father of art at Notre Dame his first breakthrough in promoting art on campus came in 1955, when he helped convince world-renowned sculptor Ivan Mestrovic, with whom he’d studied at Syracuse University, to relocate to Notre Dame as Distinguished Sculptor in Residence. He later forged enduring friendships with wealthy art patrons in New York and Chicago, convincing them to part with pieces from their collections. His twice-yearly excursions to ask for gifts on behalf of the University continued for many years after his retirement. In his final years when he was no longer able to sculpt, he would still go out once a week to paint watercolors and draw with older artists in the area.

WALTER LANGFORD ‘30, who organized the Peace Corps’ first overseas training program for volunteers and who was a beloved father figure to generations of student athletes, died in February at age 92. Langford joined the faculty a year after earning his bachelor’s degree. Born in southern Texas, he would teach Spanish and Portuguese, along with Mexican literature, for 42 years, serving as chair of the modern languages department from 1946-59. A respected spokesman for the faculty, he clashed with President Theodore Hesburgh, CSC, early in the priest’s administration, but when Hesburgh became involved with the formation of the Peace Corps it was to Langford he turned to direct the organization’s first training program, in Chile in 1961. The two became the best of friends, and it was Hesburgh who celebrated the memorial Mass for him in Sacred Heart Basilica. After retiring in 1973 Langford directed a foundation that made grants to educational and humanitarian efforts in the Dominican Republic. In addition to his academic pursuits, he was an influential figure in Notre Dame athletics. He coached varsity tennis from 1940-53, his teams going 95-30. In 1944 Notre Dame earned a share of the NCAA tennis championship. Among his players was the future father of tennis star Chris Evert. He also coached the Irish fencing team from 1940-43 and 1951-61 with a combined record of 155-35. He had a deep interest in his players as people and wanted to know about their backgrounds. He wrote to their parents and often had players over to his house to make them feel a part of his family, especially students in need. Character was always an important element of his coaching. One time when a fencer of his threw down his equipment in disgust after a loss, he walked over, put his arm around the student and explained, “Notre Dame men don’t act that way.” Langford’s son Jim ’59 is director emeritus of Notre Dame Press. Son-in-law William Berry ’53, ’57M.S., is a member of the electrical engineering faculty.

Department of Art, Art History and Design
Romance Languages at ND