Monogram Club 2003 Summer Update
2003 JUNE DINNER SIGNALS PASSING OF PRESIDENT’S GAVEL TO DUERSON, KELLY NAMED SECOND VICE-PRESIDENT
The Monogram Club’s annual June dinner in 2003 signaled the end of Jim Carroll’s two-year term as the Club’s president, with Dave Duerson beginning his two-year tenure while Julie Doyle has moved up to first vice-president (her term as president will begin in 2005). Former Irish basketball player Marc Kelly was announced as the Club’s new second vice-president, with Jill Matesic taking his spot on the board of directors.
DUERSON has been a tremendous success story on several levels, playing for two Super Bowl champs in 11 NFL seasons before embarking on an impressive business career. He currently owns Duerson Foods, LCC, which opened in 2002 and provides sausage production for 40% of the Burger King system (among others). The high-volume operation recently moved into a state-of-the-art facility in Pleasant Prairie, Wis. – with 2003 revenues expected to be in the $50 million range.
Former Notre Dame All-America defensive back Dave Duerson – who will serve as president of the Monogram Club from 2003-05 – went on to an 11-year career in the NFL before enjoying great success in the business world.
Duerson – a graduate of the Owner/President Management Program in the Harvard Business School’s Executive Education Program – previously served as majority owner, president and CEO of Fair Oaks Farms (’95-’02), the breakfast sausage supplier for McDonald’s. Under his leadership, FOF nearly tripled its profitability in a seven-year span, with sales growing from $24 to $63 million.
The 2001 recipient of the prestigious Sorin Award from the Notre Dame Alumni Association, Duerson serves his alma mater on the highest level as a University trustee and formerly on the College of Business executive board.
Chairman of the Dave Duerson Foundation, which caters to students pursuing entrepreneurial studies, he also serves as a leading member of the athletic department’s mentoring program.
Dave Duerson still holds the Notre Dame record for career interception yardage, with 256.
The two-time All-America defensive back and tri-captain for the ’82 Irish football team set a still-standing ND record for career interception yardage (256) before graduating with a degree in economics. He played for the NFL’s Chicago Bears, New York Giants and Phoenix Cardinals, earning four all-Pro honors and winning Super Bowl titles with the ’85 Bears and ’90 Giants.
In recognition of his charitable work with substance abuse prevention and Special Olympics, Duerson was named the 1987 NFL Man of the Year, the ’88 NFL Humanitarian of the Year and the ’90 Monogram Club Member of the Year. For 20 years, he has sponsored free football camps in Chicago and his hometown of Muncie, Ind., with the camps teaching football fundamentals and stressing the value of education while alerting participants to the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse.
Also a sports radio personality in the Chicago area, Duerson resides in Highland Park, Ill., with his wife Alicia and their four children.
Marc Kelly – currently the second vice-president of the Notre Dame Monogram Club (he will serve as president from 2007-09) – was a successful walk-on member of the Irish basketball team and now sits as a superior court trial judge in Orange County, Calif.
KELLY – a popular walk-on with the Irish basketball team – was elected a superior court judge by the voters of Orange County, Calif., in 2000, and sits as a superior court trial judge hearing civil and criminal cases.
Nicknamed “Movie Man” at Notre Dame, due to his acting role in the 1978 movie Fast Break, Kelly appeared in 45 games during four seasons while playing alongside the likes of Bill Laimbeer, Orlando Woolridge, Bill Hanzlik, John Paxson, Kelly Tripucka, Rich Branning and Tracy Jackson.
Marc Kelly played alongside some of the greatest players in Notre Dame basketball history before going on to receive his law degree from the University of San Diego.
As one of just two seniors on the ’81-’82 team, the native of Crescenta Valley, Calif., earned a varsity monogram before graduating with a degree in economics. He spent the 1982-83 season playing professionally in Ireland with the Belfast-based Annadale club before graduating from the University of San Diego School of Law (’87) and then serving 12 years as a senior deputy district attorney in Orange County.
Kelly and his wife Sara reside in Newport Beach, Calif., with their sons Will and Connor.
2003 KRAUSE AWARD PRESENTED TO PETE DEMMERLE
The 2003 Edward “Moose” Krause Monogram Club Member of the Year Award was bestowed upon former Notre Dame football great Pete Demmerle, who went on to a successful career in insurance law and now is battling Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) – a progressive terminal illness that strikes 1-2 people per 100,000.
Former Notre Dame football player/assistant coach and current assistant athletic director Brian Boulac made the Krause Award presentation at the Monogram Club’s 2003 June dinner. Demmerle was unable to attend the dinner but his daughter Cara, a freshman at Yale, accepted on his behalf and read remarks from her father in which he recalls his upbringing as a Notre Dame fan who still did not “grasp the true meaning of the Notre Dame family” until his illness was diagnosed in 1999, after which he has been showered with letters, e-mails and visits from Notre Dame people throughout the world.
Cara then added her own comments, displaying tremendous maturity, poise and insight and bringing the crowd to its feet in appreciation for such an inspiring young person (trust us, Pete, you can be most proud of the job you and Kate have done in raising your four daughters).
Here are excerpts from Cara’s comments:
Cara Demmerle (right, pictured with award presented Brian Boulac) accepted the 2003 Moose Krause Award on behalf of her father Pete Demmerle.
“At 19, I have known my father for nearly half of his life. I have known the parent who yelled a little too loudly at soccer games, the lawyer who brought home packets and packets of perfect white paper and owned an army of identical black pencils. I have known the father who, despite his illness, has continued to sustain our family with his characteristic sense of humor.
“Although I have come to better know my father, an important part of his character remained beyond my understanding. Despite my superficial exposure to all things Notre Dame, I have never fully grasped the nature of my father’s experience here, an experience I know that affected him greatly. Tonight, in witnessing this display of kindness and compassion, I believe I have come a little closer. So, thank you for this opportunity to better understand my father, I am very grateful.”
Demmerle was a standout split end who went on to an accomplished career in insurance law. He resides in Greenwich, Conn., with his wife Kate and four daughters. Demmerle spent most of his postgraduate life as a highly-respected lawyer with the international firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, L.L.P. His many admirers have grown exponentially in the past three years, as Demmerle has become an inspiring advocate for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis research after being diagnosed in 1999 with the degenerative condition (commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
“Pete Demmerle was a very honorable student-athlete who has carried forward in life as a tremendous representative of the University of Notre Dame and its values,” said outgoing Monogram Club president Jim Carroll.
Demmerle remains one of just six Notre Dame student-athletes ever to combine All-America, Academic All-America and NCAA postgraduate scholarship honors with playing on a national championship team (in 1973). He was Notre Dame’s leading receiver in ’73 and ’74 (43, then sixth-best in ND history), when he helped the Irish post a pair of season-ending bowl victories over Alabama. His three first-quarter catches and a later two-point conversion helped spark the 1973 team to the 24-23 Sugar Bowl victory over the Crimson Tide, delivering the program’s ninth consensus national title.
Former Irish split end Pete Demmerle remains one of just six Notre Dame student-athletes ever to earn All-America, Academic All-America and NCAA postgraduate scholarship honors while also playing for a national championship team (all during the same season, in 1973).
A knee injury in his final college game essentially ended Demmerle’s shot at a pro football career (he was a consensus All-American but the injury dropped him to being a 13th-round draft pick of the San Diego Chargers) but he went on to graduate from Fordham Law School in 1979 before working his way up the ranks at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, ultimately serving as the firm’s senior insurance partner and a member of its steering committee. He played a major role in the successfully-concluded reorganization of the Lloyd’s of London market and, under his direction, LeBoeuf prepared a comprehensive paper detailing the methods by which mutual property and casualty insurers can enhance their capital structure.
Demmerle has served as a tireless advocate for ALS awareness and research funding (with top research being conducted at Johns Hopkins and Columbia). As ALS Association advocacy chair, he has led all aspects of ALS advocacy, including travelling to Washington, D.C., the past three years for National ALS Advocacy Day.
Pete Demmerle was an internationally-respected figure in insurance law before becoming a leading advocate for ALS research, after being stricken with what is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Wings Over Wall Street gala benefit, held Oct. 3, 2002, at the Marriot Marquis in the heart of Times Square, raised some $1.9 million for ALS research (the largest fundraiser in MDA history). Demmerle was honored at the event with the MDA’s 2002 Spirit Award, with LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae (which has some 750 lawyers practicing in 14 U.S. offices and in 10 countries overseas) serving as a “Guardian Angel” sponsor of the gala while the 1,700 in attendance included representatives of the London insurance market who flew in exclusively for the event. Those international clients showed their love and respect for Demmerle by presenting him with a traditional London insurance “slip” showing those who contributed a total of $65,000 in his honor.
Demmerle, a second-generation Notre Dame student, was known as an articulate and thoughtful member of the class of 1975. An English major and voracious reader who was considered for the Rhodes Scholarship, Demmerle’s mind remains sharp as his body battles a terrible disease. He presently is confined to a wheelchair and communicates via a keyboard synthesizer.
“I have learned many things about living with ALS,” says Demmerle. “I have learned to live within increasing limitations. I have learned life is not possible without the care and support of my wife and children. I have learned that friendship brightens my day and sustains my desire to participate in life. I have learned from countless acts of kindness from perfect strangers that, on the whole, the human condition is good. For these reasons, I am deeply grateful.”
Demmerle – who still holds several Connecticut high school receiving records for a career, season and single game (while helping New Canaan HS win three state titles) – married his wife Kate in 1981 and the couple has four daughters: Cara (18, a freshman at Yale in 2002-03), Alice (16), Tessa (11) and Nina (10).
SIX NEW DIRECTORS JOIN BOARD IN 2003
Former Notre Dame student manager Christy Grady went on to receive her master’s in sports management from UMass before embarking on a career in event management for a wide range of professional and amateur sports.
Six new directors have joined the Monogram Club board, with Christy Grady (’98, manager), Marvin Lett (’87, soccer), Kevin McDermott (’73, manager), Mike Mitchell (’82, basketball) and Van Pearcy (’85, football and track) beginning three-year terms on the board.
GRADY has served as the Jim Fassel Foundation’s project manager with 16W Marketing in Rutherford, N.J., coordinating on-site logistics and tournament collateral for the JFF Celebrity Golf Classic and the CJ Foundation for SIDS Golf Classic – after earlier working with 16W as a project consultant at Super Bowl XXXV, assisting with corporate host duties.
She previously was sponsorship coordinator for the Gazelle Group in Princeton, with her duties including sponsorship packages, event hospitality, ticket pricing and promotions for two Division I basketball tournaments (the Guardians Classic and BCA Invitational).
Grady was a business development intern with SFX Sports Group (East Rutherford) in the summer of 2000, creating weekly reports concerning the impact of internet developments on the sports industry while helping target naming-rights clients and assisting in merchandising and guest relations for Arena Bowl XIV.
The Lodi, Calif., native interned with the ND athletics compliance office in ’98-’99, after completing her student-manager duties with the women’s basketball team. Grady graduated in ’98 with a degree in business administration before receiving her master’s in sports management from Massachusetts (’01), where she also served as a teaching assistant and was involved in hockey marketing and promotions efforts.
Former Irish soccer player Marvin Lett graduated from Harvard law school before ultimately settling into a general litigation practice in Washington, D.C., with San Francisco-based Heller, Ehrman.
LETT is a Washington, D.C., lawyer at San Francisco-based Heller, Ehrman, with a general litigation practice. One of his career highlights came when he co-authored an amicus brief in the University of Michigan affirmative action cases that recently were decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Marvin Lett played in 42 career games with the Irish soccer team and graduated from Notre Dame with high honors as a government/ international relations major.
He spent three years (’97-’00) as an instructor at the Howard University School of Law, teaching legal reasoning and writing, and he earlier was an associate at D.C.-based Steptoe & Johnson from ’94-’97. Lett graduated with his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1993 and returned to Harvard to receive his LL.M. law degree in ’94. He was a legal assistant in a Dallas law firm for three years before beginning his law school studies.
The Dallas native earned two monograms with the Irish soccer team (’85-’86) while appearing in 42 games as a midfielder, with four goals and one assist. He received the team’s student-athlete award and was named a U.S. Achievement Academy Scholastic All-American, graduating with high honors in government/ international relations.
An active board member of The Cove School for learning-disabled children and the Notre Dame Club of Chicago, Matesic resides in Chicago with her husband Tim Gilroy, a ’94 ND graduate.
McDERMOTT is a vice president and casualty broker for Stewart Smith, a national wholesale insurance broker in the fields of excess and surplus lines, hard-to-place, unique, difficult or specialty business. He has worked in the insurance industry since receiving his business administration degree in ’73, previously employed by both Amerisure and Home Insurance.
Former Notre Dame student manager Kevin McDermott now is a vice president for the brokerage firm Stewart Smith, in Grand Rapids, Mich.
A board member with the ND Club of Grand Rapids, McDermott has served as co-chair of the Universal Notre Dame Night and assists in the annual ND vs. Michigan Baseball Bash that raises scholarship funds for Grand Rapids-area students (the club annually awards 4-5 scholarships to Notre Dame students from the area).
As a senior in ’73, McDermott was the student manager for one of Jake Kline’s final Notre Dame baseball teams – and he credits Kline’s example of hard work, commitment and dedication to Notre Dame with leaving a lasting impression on him.
McDermott and his wife Beth reside in his native Grand Rapids and are the parents of two children, Erin and Michael.
MITCHELL is president of the sales division with Nestl? USA, responsible for retail sales to supermarkets, mass merchandising, discounters, club stores, drug stores and the military – after previously serving as president/general manager for Nestle’s beverage division.
He joined the Nestle beverage division in ’91, as general manager of club, drug and mass merchandising, and was promoted to divisional VP of grocery sales for the Western U.S. He then was promoted in ’94 to VP/GM of roast and ground coffee and moved to Nestle food services in ’95, as senior VP for sales (directing a staff of 180, with annual sales of $1.1 billion).
Former Irish basketball player Mike Mitchell currently is president of the sales division with Nestl? USA.
Mitchell added marketing responsibilities to his role as senior VP for sales and marketing in ’98, with food services achieving record sales for three consecutive years. He then became senior VP for marketing in 2000, creating a stronger focus on strategic development and long-term growth for leading brands and new business ventures.
Prior to joining Nestl?, Mitchell worked nine years at Lederle Laboratories in several sales and marketing positions.
Mike Mitchell was a four-year monogram winner at Notre Dame and captained the 1981-82 squad as a senior while starting in the backcourt alongside current Chicago Bulls general manager John Paxson.
A four-year basketball monogram winner and senior team captain, Mitchell started in the backcourt alongside John Paxson while averaging 6.4 points per game in ’81-’82. The San Francisco-area native received his degree in marketing from Notre Dame in ’82.
Mitchell and his wife Barbara (an ’82 ND grad) have four children: Erin, twins Kevin and Brendan (who are coached by their father on the hardcourt) and Ellen.
PEARCY is the key financial advisor and branch manager/registered principal for Midland’s Raymond James office (VanPearcy Financial) and has 17 years of experience in helping clients with comprehensive financial planning.
He received his economics degree in ’85 and a MBA from Notre Dame in ’87 before starting the first office for a regional brokerage firm in the Midland/Odessa area of West Texas – later becoming the first recipient of the “Leadership Achievement Award” in the firm’s 129-year history.
Van Pearcy lettered with the Irish football and track teams before going on to a successful career in financial planning.
Pearcy moved to Raymond James Financial in 2000, allowing him to work independently while offering clients unbiased investment information. He has trained hundreds of financial advisors, is a nationally-known speaker and was voted by readers of the Midland Reporter-Telegram as the best financial advisor in West Texas. He also was nominated by the national trade magazine On Wall Street as one the nation’s “amazing financial advisors.”
Van Pearcy was a high school All-American in both football and track but a series of injuries limited his career at Notre Dame.
Pearcy taught basic and advanced investment classes at Midland College for eight years and serves on the board of directors for Children’s Cerebral Palsy Center, the Midland Fireman’s Relief & Retirement Fund and the Permian Basin Charity Golf Classic. He was president of Midland Country Club in 2002.
A native of Andrews, Texas, Pearcy was a prep All-American in football and track, setting the national sophomore 400-meter record and ranking among the nation’s top long jumpers. A series of knee problems limited his contributions with the Irish football and track and field teams, serving as a starting wide receiver, track captain and cartoonist for The Observer student newspaper.
Pearcy and his wife Donna are the parents of two children: Erin and Vance.
2003 HONORARY MONOGRAMS BESTOWED ON BENNETT, MEYER AND SASSANO
Three honorary monograms were presented at the Monogram Club dinner, to: longtime photographer Mike Bennett (presented by associate AD John Heisler), athletic trainer William “Skip” Meyer (by former ND basketball player Scott Paddock) and retired Joyce Center manager Joe Sassano (by assistant AD Mike Danch).
BENNETT – a South Bend native born to ND fans Jack and Virginia Bennett – began ushering at Notre Dame Stadium as a 16-year-old during the 1966 national championship season. He completed a four-year tool and die apprenticeship and entered the photographic field in 1974, marrying his wife Sue in ’75. Bennett became manager of a commercial photographic studio in 1978 and photographed his first ND football game in 1982 at Pittsburgh, launching a stint as a freelancer.
Mike Bennett has impacted the lives of thousands of Notre Dame student-athletes, coaches and administrators through his tireless work over the years photographing various Irish sporting events.
He opened his own business in 1986, Professional Photographic Services (now Lighthouse Imaging), and his photo credits include the Fiesta Bowl win that capped the 1988 national championship, the 2001 NCAA women’s basketball championship and ensuing visit to the White House, and the 2002 College World Series. Mike and Sue are the parents of three daughters – Buffy Gerndt, Jaime Fedder and Michelle Szajko – and spend their free time doting on granddaughters Virginia and Rebekah Gerndt and Cadence Szajko.
Bennett’s stunned reaction was followed the next morning with a letter he sent to the Club’s executive director Bill Scholl. Here are excerpts:
“I awoke and rushed to the closet to see if it was there. It was! The monogram jacket presented to me the night before was there. It was not a dream. The event was such a shock that I really don’t remember what went on … I’m not quite sure what I said. … This is what I would like to say:
“A Moment Frozen In Time – that’s what a photograph can be. It can bring back memories and emotions long forgotten. It can be the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. It can make us want to do something, change something or be something.
“When someone’s home is threatened by disaster, what is one of the first things they want to save – it’s their photographs.
“I have had the honor and privilege to capture many Notre Dame moments over the past 20 years … But Notre Dame has done so much more for me than I could ever do for Her – the roar of the football stadium, the quietness of the Grotto and the friendships. It’s amazing, only at Notre Dame!
“So if I can capture a moment in time to bring back a memory or stir up an emotion, then I hope I am contributing a very small part to the Notre Dame Spirit, past, present and future. This is such a great honor and I know the photograph that I am going to cherish the rest of my life is the one where I’m being presented a monogram jacket.
“Thanks for my moment in time.” – Mike Bennett
(Editor’s note: Due to the many friendships Mike has developed with members of the Monogram Club, we feel it necessary to inform you that he suffered a minor heart attack on Aug. 17, 2003. Tremendously embarrassed by all the attention he received and – in classic Mike Bennett fashion – somehow feeling he had let down so many people who relied on him, Mike fittingly was deeply touched once again by the warmth of the Notre Dame family. An outpouring of e-mails and cards have helped Mike in the early days of his recovery and anyone wishing to contact him may do so via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Skip Meyer has served 25 seasons as the athletic trainer for the Notre Dame men’s basketball team.
MEYER is embarking on his 25th season at Notre Dame and is the longtime athletic trainer of the men’s basketball team, in addition to teaching in the physical education department. A native of Torrington, Conn., he joined the Notre Dame staff after a three-year stint as an athletic trainer at Lehigh.
Meyer attended Central Connecticut State College, serving as an undergraduate student trainer while receiving his bachelor of science degree in heath and physical education (’74). He received a master’s of education degree from Trenton State in 1976 while working as a graduate assistant trainer. He and his wife Pam are the parents of two children, Christopher and Lindsey.
SASSANO was involved in the Joyce Center facility administration and management from its opening in 1969 until his retirement in 2003. His primary involvement centered on the wide variety of special events and activities that take place in the facility. He helped coordinate a long list of events, ranging from presidential visits to the annual Manufactured Housing Show to performances by entertainers such as Elvis Presley, Bob Hope, Bill Cosby, Bruce Springsteen, Ice Capades, the Harlem Globetrotters and the Ringling Brothers Circus.
Joe Sassano recently retired after serving 34 years in the Joyce Center facility administration and management.
He previously spent nine years as head football coach at Weber High School in Chicago, with his teams winning two all-city crowns, and was a 1972 inductee into the Chicago Catholic League Coaches Hall of Fame. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1955 and master’s in guidance and counseling (’59), both from Notre Dame.
Sassano and his wife Carol are the parents of four children: Joe III, David and Jennifer (both ND graduates) and Jessica.