Several With Athletic Ties Among 2003 Alumni Award Recipients
Former football player Darrell Gordon and baseball players Jim Gillis and Harry Durkin – plus benefactor Frank Eck and financial aid director Joe Russo – have received prestigious honors.
Jan. 8, 2004
Three former Notre Dame varsity monogram winners – football playerDarrell “Flash” Gordon (’88) and baseball players Jim Gillis (’51)and Harry Durkin (’53) – and two others with connections to theMonogram Club (Frank Eck ’44 and Joe Russo) were 2003 recipients ofthe Alumni Association’s prestigious annual awards.
Gordon received the 2003 William Reynolds Award, established in 1985and conferred on alumni for exceptional work with youth for thebetterment of the quality of life. The award was presented athalftime of the Blue-Gold intrasquad football game (April 26). Gordonis chief executive officer for Wernle Children’s Home, a residentialtreatment behavioral health care agency serving youth in Indiana andOhio. Daily contact with Gordon has resulted in signs of heightenedself-esteem among the boys at Wernle and he has rallied significantsupport to make Wernle a premier facility, including an exemplaryboard of directors.
Jim Gillis was presented the 2003 Harvey Foster Award.
An adjunct professor of sports law at Ball State and formercoordinator of the NCAA’s “Education and Stay in Bounds” program(which promoted the development of character and sportsmanship),Gordon played outside linebacker for the Irish football team and wasa starter on the 1988 national championship team. – before earninghis JD degree from Northern Kentucky’s Chase College of Law. He andhis wife Tonia have a baby daughter, Justis.
Gillis was presented the 2003 Harvey Foster Award, established in ’82and conferred on alumni, some athletes or in athletic endeavors, whohave distinguished themselves through civic or Universityactivities. The presentation took place at halftime of theND-Washington State football game.
For more than 40 years, Gillis has organized Notre Dame Club of LosAngeles programs and events. Currently a resident of Toluca Lake,Calif., Gillis played for the Irish baseball program one in semi-probaseball for one year with the Philadelphia Phillies organization. Heserved two terms on the Monogram Club board of directors and ispresident and owner of Gillis Broadcasting, Inc. A former FBI agent,Gillis was encouraged toward that career by the namesake of thisaward, Harvey Foster ’39 J.D., who also was an FBI agent. Gillisworked for Foster when he was re-assigned from Pittsburgh to theFBI’s office in Newark, N.J. He and wife Jane have five children andnine grandchildren.
Past recipients of the Foster Award include nine former footballplayers – Jim Mello (’48), Bob Scanell (’58), Jack Elder (’30), BobMcBride (’44), Joe Ruetz (’38), Jim Lynch (’67), Chris Zorich (’91),Nick Buoniconti (’62), Richard Soisson (’50) and Zeke O’Connor (’49)- plus basketball greats Rev. John Smyth (’57), Dick Rosenthal (’54,also played baseball), Ray Meyer (’58), Bill Hanzlik (’80) andLaphonso Ellis (’92). Others include track star Bill Hurd (’69),legendary ND assistant football coach and athletic administratorGeorge Kelly (’53), former ND swimming coach Dennis Stark (’47),retired athletic trainer Gene Paszkiet (’50) and former studentmanager Marty Allen (’58).
Harry Durkin received the 2003 Richard Rosenthal Award.
Durkin received the 2003 Richard Rosenthal Award, established in ’95in honor of the former ND two-sport star and AD and conferred on aformer board member for exemplary activity and support of the AlumniAssociation. The award was presented on June 6, during AlumniReunion weekend. Durkin’s fundraising has benefited Catholic parishesand local alumni clubs and he served as president of the ND Club ofNew Jersey for six years before moving to Florida, acceptingpresidency of the ND Club of Fort Lauderdale in the late 1980s andinvigorating that club with his energy. The club won several AlumniAssociation awards in his eight-year presidency and Durkin receivedthe club’s Award of the Year in ’93 before being named a clubexemplar in ’97.
He went on to represent Region 17 on the Alumni Association’s Boardof Directors for three years and now serves as regional director ofNotre Dame Senior Alumni, also organizing the tax assistance programfor the Fort Lauderdale Club.
A native of Newark, N.J., Durkin played for the Irish baseball squadbefore spending six seasons in the Detroit Tigers organization whileattending Seton Hall Law School (’60). A distinguished trial lawyerfor 26 years, he was invited to teach a course in trial techniques atthe Institute of Continuing Education. Harry and his wife Alice ownedDurkin’s Mountain Inn, a 400-seat restaurant/catering business inWest Orange, N.J., and they have four children: Danny, Marty, MaryAnn and Hap (’94).
Eck received the 2003 Rev. Edward Frederick Sorin, C.S.C., Award,established in ’65 and conferred on alumni (not current ND employees)who have rendered distinguished service to the University- with theaward also presented during Reunion Weekend. Eck’s contributions canbe seen throughout campus, including the Eck Tennis Center, EckBaseball Stadium the Eck Center (housing the bookstore, AlumniAssociation offices, and visitors center). He also presented a giftto establish a collection of chemical engineering books at theHesburgh Library and is a major benefactor for the Notre Dame LawSchool.
Frank Eck received the 2003 Rev. Edward Frederick Sorin, C.S.C., Award.
A former member of the ND track team, Eck is an honorary member ofthe Monogram Club (’88). He is chairman and CEO of Advanced DrainageSystems Inc. (Hilliard, Ohio), the world’s largest producer ofengineered plastic drainage pipe used primarily in civil engineering.Eck earned his MBA from Harvard and has been a member of the NDCollege of Engineering advisory council. Son of architect Vincent Eck(’15), Frank and his late wife are parents of four children,including Frank Jr. (’89 JD; member of ND Law School advisorycouncil).
Russo – who received an honorary degree from Notre Dame in ’92 -received the 2003 James Armstrong Award, established in ’78 andconferred on a current ND employee who has rendered distinguishedservice to the University (he received the award during an Aprilmeeting of the Alumni Senate). Russo has been director of financialaid at Notre Dame since 1978 and works closely in the administrationof the Monogram Club’s Brennan-Boland scholarship fund.