‘A truly iconic global figure’
I am a 1969 Notre Dame graduate and currently serve on the University's Board of Trustees. Two of my children are Notre Dame graduates; JW, class of 2001, and Jennifer, class of 2003. My family and I are so saddened to learn of Fr. Ted's passing. He was, and shall always remain, a truly iconic global figure, not only in higher education but across all social, political, economic and spiritual worlds. Admired by all, his inspirational leadership will continue to guide us. Fr. Ted taught me that Notre Dame is not just a leading center for Catholic spirituality, a great academic enterprise or a leading member of the intercollegiate sports community, Notre Dame is much more: it is a "Way of Life." It is a Way of Life that has deeply embedded Notre Dame as a very important member of the American cultural landscape. Under Fr. Ted's leadership, our Way of Life occupies a very special home in higher education that no other institution can claim; it is the one defining feature that coalesces all of us who are dedicated to our lady's university.
As a true entrepreneurial educator, Fr. Ted has laid a foundation for future generations of leaders. A true champion of civil rights, social justice and the elimination of poverty, his entire persona will provide an umbrella which will not only allow our great University to survive, but will enable it to continue to thrive in his image.
Fr. Ted's life touched and influenced a multitude of people, of all races, colors and creeds, in so many special ways. His wisdom particularly influenced me in a very unique experience I had with Fr. Ted a number of years ago after a trustee meeting when we flew together to Boston and had two hours of uninterrupted conversation. It was during a particularly difficult time in my life, and while dedicated to my children, I expressed to Fr. Ted that I wasn't entirely sure how to let them know how much I loved them. He gave the advise of a lifetime when he said, "The greatest gift a father can give to his children is to love their mother." This was a very special moment for me from a very special person.
When asked by a non-Notre Dame friend to briefly define Fr. Hesburgh's persona and life, I responded by saying, "Priest, Educator, Advisor and Counselor, Global Inspirational Leader, Author, Intellectual, Proud, Selfless, Humble, Gentle, Firm in His Beliefs but Fair, an Entrepreneur, a Modern Day Renaissance Man, Respected, Revered and Adored by All, a Human Being With the Common Touch, My Hero in Life."
Fr. Ted, you will be remembered forever and dearly missed.
Class of 1969
Notre Dame Board of Trustees