Lessons on life, love, marriage

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It is with a heavy heart, that during the week my wife Diane and I are celebrating our silver wedding anniversary, we learn of the passing of a great man who played a part in our union and helped us stay together these 25 years.

On Feb. 23, 1990, we walked into Fr. Hesburgh’s office atop the Hesburgh Library to have our “Dutch Uncle Talk” (as Fr. Ted called it) with the man who was to marry us the following day.  Fr. Hesburgh was holding press interviews when we arrived, as El Salvador’s former President, Napoleon Duarte, a Notre Dame graduate and Fr. Ted's close friend, had passed away earlier that day.  When finished, Fr. Ted came into a room we waited in and told us he was going to fly to El Salvador to perform the funeral after he married us at the Log Chapel.

He then gave us advice about keeping a marriage together.  His most memorable story was about the need for open communication.  He told the story of a couple he knew well.  The wife had suffered for decades with her husband’s foul-smelling breath.  She never told her husband to brush his teeth or use mouthwash in fear of offending him or hurting his feelings.  He urged us not to keep things inside, to communicate openly.  Father Ted (we know you can hear us), thank you for some great advice.

As fate would have it, a snow storm hit South Bend the next day (surprise).  It was 10 minutes before the ceremony was supposed to begin, and Fr. Hesburgh still had not arrived at the Log Chapel.  Then, Fr. Ned Joyce walked in and handed us a hand-written note.  In it, Fr. Ted apologized that due to the storm’s worsening nature, the National Guard needed to drive him to Indianapolis right away, before our ceremony was to begin to board Air Force Two with then-Vice President Dan Quayle for El Salvador.  He said he had arranged for his friend Fr. Joyce to marry us. (We may be the only couple with two marriage certificates, one signed by Fr. Joyce and one signed by Fr. Hesburgh).

When I was a student in the 1970s, we revered Fr. Ted.  He was such an impressive public speaker and national figure, and he gave us all pride to be Domers.  He made many positive changes at the University during his tenure, perhaps the best being admitting women, which I got to experience first-hand as women came to Notre Dame for the first time my sophomore year.

We saw Fr. Hesburgh a number of times over the years, usually on Council weekends.  After listening to him speak, I always felt I could become a better man.

I received an email today from a friend, Derrick Mayes, who summed up Fr. Hesburgh well with the quote,  “If he wasn’t a priest, he would have been President, and if he wasn’t American, he would have been Pope.”

We will miss this wonderful, humble man.


Dan Hesse

Class of 1975

Former CEO, Sprint Corporation