July 22, 2009
Notre Dame, Ind – Dr. Dennis Nigro ’69, a Monogram winner in tennis, passed away peacefully on July 12th at Scripps Memorial Hospital in Encinitas, Calif. after wagging a fierce battle with cancer. He was surrounded by family, close friends and the music of Jackson Brown playing in the background. He was 61.
Dr. Nigro, a third generation Domer, considered Notre Dame to be his second home and the place that formed him into the man he became. In 1986, he decided it was the right time to begin living the mantra of former Executive Director of the Monogram Club, Father Riehle, “For those much has been given much is required.”
That year he along with a small group of doctors created Fresh Start Surgical Gifts. The program provides free reconstructive plastic surgery and related medical services to disadvantaged children and young people with physical deformities. Fresh Start has given hope and new lives to thousands of children throughout the world.
Fresh Start Surgical Gifts garnered Dr. Nigro numerous awards including, the 1992 “Thomas A. Dooley Award” presented to a Notre Dame alumnus in recognition of their outstanding service to the community, the 1993 “Presidents Volunteer Action Award” presented by former President Bill Clinton and was recognized by former President George H.W. Bush’s as one of his “Points of Light” in 1998.
Despite all the awards and accolades, Dr. Nigro considered his ultimate reward to be the smiling faces of gratitude from the children of Fresh Start.
Services for Dr. Nigro will be held Wednesday, July 29th at 11:00 a.m. at St. Johns Catholic Church in Encinitas, Calif. He is survived by his wife Brenda; his daughters Bergen and Erris; his son Dante; his brothers David and Bobby; and his sisters Jane and Nancy.