Notre Dame Alumni E-Newsletter
February 2015
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Dear  , 

Greetings from the Father Colin house, home of the alumni office!


I am excited at the many plans we are making for the alumni association and can't wait to share them all with you! So many things to look forward to, including changes to our alumni board, upcoming alumni challenges, an alumni impact survey and most importantly, new and exciting ways for our alum to reconnect with Notre Dame! We are currently rebuilding the board and would love your input and help. Join us on Tuesday for a board meeting to learn more.


The "new" Notre Dame Fund has taken off strong. Currently, our alumni have given nearly $45,000! Last year, we had 363 gifts from alumni and we have set a goal of 500 gifts this year. I am confident we will surpass that number. We will be issuing an alumni-giving challenge in early March in conjunction with Irish Week. Stay tuned for more details on that.


I am hoping to conduct an in-depth alumni survey to find out from all of you how we can improve what we are already doing. You should have received a postcard from my office asking you to update your current email address so we can be sure you will get the survey. Please be sure to send in the card or update it online at our website. 


Looking forward to the future!



Beth Campbell

Director of Alumni Relations

Alumni Board Meeting - Tuesday,  February 10, at 6 p.m. 


Join the Alumni Association Board of Directors!
The Notre Dame Alumni Association Board of Directors is looking for new members. All graduates of Notre Dame Prep, Notre Dame High School, Pontiac Catholic, Oakland Catholic, St. Michael and St. Frederick are eligible.  Join us at 1389 Giddings Road.

If you would like to attend, and/or have a topic for the agenda, please email Beth Campbell at


2001 Notre Dame Grad and Cranbrook Alum is Creating Big Art in Washington


Notre Dame alum Brian Widmaier ('01) is in a studio on the University of Washington campus during the construction of his art installation, called "Burnt in Time." (Photos: MadArt, Seattle)
Notre Dame Prep graduate Brian Widmaier ('01) has been a busy artist.

He completed an art project in Seattle this past fall that was part of an outdoor exhibition sponsored by MadArt, an organization loosely affiliated with the University of Washington that is rethinking how and where art is viewed in local communities. Widmaier had been a visiting artist and adjunct professor for U-W's School of Art.

He joined twelve other artists to create art installations across the U-W grounds for the Mad Campus exhibition, which ran September 13 through October 25, 2014.


Widmaier's piece was called "Burnt in Time," and it was made from wood, fabric and photo-sensitive dye. He said he was inspired to work with the grids formed by the walking paths and sidewalks between buildings on the Washington campus. He then built the massive obelisk forms from wood and fabric that had been bleached by the sun. 


The obelisks reached 12 feet in height and as they blocked sunlight they created moving shadows throughout the day. As each day progressed, the shadows moved to unveil the changing surfaces around them, allowing viewers to interact and witness the steady progression of time.


To read more of Brian's story, click here.

Alum Artist (and Flying Fish) is Making Art for Detroit

Notre Dame alum Bryan Ureel, center, created the image at right for use on a promotional piece for his company, Flying Fish Studios.

Nineteen-eighty-two Notre Dame grad Bryan Ureel welcomes the uptick in the economy in general and the local economy in particular. He's a commercial artist and has been working at his Royal Oak-based company, Flying Fish Studios, for a number of years. The fact that the automotive industry and Detroit's economy is going great likely has something to do with Flying Fish also going great lately. But his business relies a lot on something other than cars: worker clothing, which, when lots of houses and buildings are going up in the Detroit area and nationwide, also sells well.

"Not so much automotive anymore, but what really keeps us busy is Carhartt," Ureel said. "We've had the account for several years and do a lot of product photography, retouching and color correction for their catalogs. We also do the model photography and retouching for the company's e-com site," 


Ureel and his partners at Flying Fish have been producing award-winning graphic design, illustration, digital imaging, retouching and photography to clients ranging from Coca-Cola, Disney, Chrysler, Ford and Honda to Steelcase and, of course, Carhartt, a Metro Detroit-based company.

To read more about Bryan and to see more of his artwork click here.

Notre Dame Alum Working on the Future of the Auto Industry


On January 13, the press previews wrapped up in Detroit for the 2015editionof the North American International Auto Show.

Automotive reporters and editors from as far away as Cambodia and Montenegro joined the more than 5,000 journalists, who were on hand to see what the industry has to offer to the world in 2015.

Organizers say that last year's credentialed media count of 5,169 should be easily met or exceeded when the final count comes in.


But for many in the auto industry who are actually designing, engineering and building the cars and trucks of tomorrow, this week will be just another week of very hard work.

One such hard worker is Notre Dame Prep alum Tom Durkin. A 2000 graduate of NDP, Durkin has been working at General Motors as an engineer since he graduated from the University of Notre Dame. He was featured in the an earlier edition ofIRISH magazine,Notre Dame's main alumni publication. In that article, he talked about the time he put in during the development of Chevrolet's innovative electric hybrid vehicle, the Volt.


To read more on Tom's work, click here.

Alum is Helping to Educate in Guatemala

Ask 2003 Notre Dame Prep graduate Annalisa Simmer what drove her to her career and she immediately scoffs at the notion that she actually "has" a career.

"It's more of a 'life work' than a career," she says. "No one ever went into humanitarian aid or mission work to make money or become successful as those in the U.S. might define success."


Life work or career, what Simmer is doing is simply both unselfish and commendable. After what she calls a "privileged" upbringing and a degree from Albion College, Simmer began a journey that took her not to grad school, but to Guatemala.

She says she's been a full-time missionary in Guatemala since October of 2010 at which time she thought she was going to teach massage therapy to the Guatemalans. But there was a real need for someone to teach English, so she jumped in with both feet.

"I run an educational program," Simmer says. "The people here call it a scholarship program, but I also call it an incentive program. I offer 'points' to the kids based on the grades they get in school. With those points they can buy 'emergency supplies' such as beans, rice, salt and sugar, among other things, or they can buy items to help improve their own family economy; things like a sewing machine, a wood stove or hair clippers."

To read more about Annalisa's story, click here.

Joe Mejaly '78 (NDHS) featured in company profile in  Detroit Free 


To read the full article,
Students from Notre Dame were in D.C. for March for Life

More than 40 students from Notre Dame's upper division were in Washington, D.C., to participate in the 42nd annual March for Life, which was held at the National Mall in the nation's capitol. They joined hundreds of other young people in "Champions for Life" clubs from many other Detroit-area Catholic high schools.

The NDP group, which numbered 43 students, were away from school and in Washington, January 21 through January 23.

A March for Life rally was from noon to 1 p.m. with a host of speakers as well as for a warm-up event and concert. The actual march began immediately after the rally and followed a route up Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill. Ten parents from NDP accompanied the students as chaperones.


Notre Dame senior Kyle Weaver is on his fourth straight trip to the march. He remembers his first time, as a freshman.


"It was awesome," he said. "I remember someone telling me after getting to the top of a hill to turn around and take a look. Seeing all those people, the hundreds of thousands of people with all their banners, was really a great thing to see."


According to Mary Jane Williams, an NDP teacher and moderator for the school's Champions for Life student club, the Notre Dame students slept in sleeping bags on the gym floor at the Catholic University of America in Washington along with thousands of other students from Catholic high schools across the United States.

Empowered! 'You Decide' is New Mantra for The NDF

Welcome to a new, donor-empowered version of The Notre Dame Fund! Over the last ten or so months, I have had an opportunity to meet with a good number of our alumni about ways to improve our approach to fundraising at Notre Dame.


The message was clear. While we all love the Notre Dame mission, every student's experience is different. So, we were asked to give our alumni a way to follow their passions and give to the area that they believe impacted them the most. We believe this change, like the student experience on campus, will give donors an experience that is uniquely Notre Dame! 

To read more or to make a gift, click here.

'Why Notre Dame.' The 2013-14 Annual Report is Posted Online


"Foundation." "Thankful." "Values." "Academic." "Tradition." "Faith." These are words we hear often when we ask parents and alumni what they think of when they think of Notre Dame. It probably shouldn't be surprising that we hear pretty much the same thing when we ask donors, "Why Notre Dame. . .why do you give to this institution?"


It's really a no-brainer, they say. The school has made such a profound difference in their children's lives or in their own lives, it just makes perfect sense to help ensure that "difference" will be available to others well into the future.


Many of those donors also say that after making their first gift, supporting Notre Dame feels like a natural thing for them to do. It just feels good.


So it is with that shared feel-good spirit that we present the Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy 2013-14 Annual Report. Take a look at the breadth of giving, but linger longer with those we've highlighted, those few among the very many in this report who truly love Notre Dame. 

To see the annual report in full, click on the picture below.

For more Notre Dame news,  click here.
Brother Louie Plourde is Turning 70! 

The BIG day is February 16th! Please help in celebrating "the Brother's" BIG birthday this year! During the month of February, we're asking all interested alumni, family and friends to send a birthday card to Brother Louis. Please send cards to: Brother Louis Plourde. s.m. Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy 1300 Giddings Road Pontiac MI 48340.


If you are interested in sending a personalized video message for Brother Louis, please follow these guidelines: Record as landscape, keep the video under 10 seconds, save as a .mov or .mp4. and then drop that message into our public Google folder:

 Please make sure that you are speaking loud enough. You may even want to hold up a large birthday sign. Group video messages are encouraged. Deadline for video submission is Friday, February 13, 2015.Your video will become part of a birthday video montage presented to Brother Louis at his birthday party. SHH! Videos and birthday cards are a surprise!


Any questions? Please contact Mary Jane Pasko or Kim Anderson or (248) 373-5300.
Notre Dame Alumni Association on Facebook, Twitter


"Like" the Notre Dame Alumni Association Facebook page to receive news and updates. Follow us on Twitter too! 


All alumni are encouraged to join the conversation and post your own memorable photos and videos from your time at Notre Dame or one of the predecessor schools. Or you can post recent status updates and photos to let other alumni know what you're up to!  

Don't forget to utilize the alumni business directory


Be sure to check out our alumni business directory. If you would like to add your business to our list please contact Beth Campbell at

For a list of upcoming class reunions   


Considering planning a reunion for your class? The alumni office can help you get started. Call (248) 373-2171 ext. 3 or email for details. 

We pray for those who have died:

Jack Crawford- '53 (SF) 1-27-15


Honorable Lawrence Zatkoff- Father of the late Lawrence Jr. '81 (NDHS) 1-22-15


Henry Gubler- Father of Tim '77 (NDHS), Alan '79 (NDHS), Joseph '80 (NDHS) and Hank '83 (NDHS) 1-21-15


Tim Schrieber- '71 (NDHS) 1-21-15

Paul Salamy- Father of Paul Jr.'88 (NDHS) 1-20-15


Nancy Ryan- Grandmother of Ty Kraniak '11 (NDP) 1-19-15


Carl H. Schmidt Jr.- Grandfather of Carl R. Schmidt '01 (NDP) and Patrick Foxworthy '04 (NDP) 1-19-15


Otavio "Tom" Benacquisto - Father of Tom '74 (NDHS), Robert '82 (NDHS) and Rich '87 (NDHS) 1-17-15


Lillian Kata- Mother to the late Richard '71 (NDHS) 1-14-15

John Chimko- Grandfather of Michael '02 (NDP), Paul '04 (NDP) and Kathleen '06 (NDP) 1-12-15


Nancy Cardamone- Sister of Roger '83 (ND) 1-8-15


Frank Colagiovanni- '68 (NDHS), Brother of Vince, '70 (NDHS) 1-6-15


Annette Stefaniak- Daughter-in-law of Mike '62 (NDHS) 1-6-15


Wilfredo Capulong- Father of Wilfred '87, Walter '98 and the late Winston '88, on 1-5-15


Yolanda Campana-Mother of Peter, ND '77 and Joe, ND '78 1-5-15


David Walch- '64 (ND) 1-4-15

Linda Rubino- Wife of Joseph '66 (NDHS) 1-3-15

Norma Wegrzynowicz- Wife of Stan, former teacher and coach at Notre Dame High School, 1-3-15


Phyllis Socia- Mother of John '71 (NDHS) 1-2-15


Catherine Franey- Mother of Kenneth '64 (NDHS), Richard '66 (NDHS) and Ronald '68 (NDHS) 1-2-15

Alphonse Vanneste- Father of Mark '67 (NDHS) 1-1-15


Virginia Houbeck- Mother of Robert Jr. '68 (NDHS), Michael '71 (NDHS), Joseph '72 (NDHS) 12-29-14


Daniel Suty- Father of Ronald '63 (NDHS) and Daniel '64 (NDHS) 12-28-14


Marlene Malloy- Grandmother of Ryan '00 (NDP) 12-28-14


Louise Domin- Mother-in-law of Michael Gagnon '66 (NDHS) 12-24-14


Armeda Dee- Mother in law of David Leone '75 (NDHS) 12-23-14


Miriam Brown- Grandmother of Shannon '08 (NDP) 12-22-14


Joseph Samuel Pensavecchia- Husband of Connie '58 (SM) 12-20-14


Gerald Georgen- Father of Jon '84 (NDHS) 12-20-14


Leonard Kaminski- Father-in-law of Kurt Nadolski '77 (NDHS), grandfather of Leonard '06 (NDHS) 12-20-14


Marie Lauinger- '50 (SM),  Husband of Chuck '48 (SM) 12-20-14


Bernice Matheis- Grandmother of Moranne Matheis '10 (NDP), Claire Kubinski '05 (NDP), Joseph Kubinski '08 (NDP) 12-18-14


Maryann Riedy- Grandmother of Emily '07 (NDP) 12-18-14


Robert Thayer- Father of Tim '70 (NDHS) 12-17-14


Patricia Hawkins- Mother-in-law to Antonino '70 (NDHS) 12-15-14


Eleanor Hendrix- Mother of Robert '66 (NDHS) 12-13-14


Fred Brown- Grandfather of Shannon Bartlett '08 (NDP) 12-12-14


Rosalio C. Nacianceno- Grandfather of Rachel Nacianceno-Henehan '98 (NDP) 12-9-14


Sandy Glinski- Mother of Joe' 91 (NDHS), Jamie '94 (NDHS) and Rich '96 (NDHS) 12-6-14


J. Michael Lacombe- '74 (NDHS), brother of Charles '70 (NDHS) 12-5-14


Louis Cervone- Father of Tony '81 (NDHS), grandfather to Brendan '09 (NDP), Connor '13 (NDP), Austin '14 (NDP) 12-4-14


Rita Hirina- Mother of Gordon '66 (NDHS), Robert '65 (NDHS) 12-4-14


Scott Anderson- '02 (NDP), Nephew of David Reis '67 (NDHS) 12-3-14


Ruth Young- Grandmother of Steven A. Barker '12 (NDP) and Alexis '18 (NDP) 12-2-14


John Sennett- Grandfather of Rachel Sennett '08 (NDP) 12-2-14


Kenneth Oswald- Father of Tom '70 (NDHS), John '73 (NDHS), father-in-law to Tony Locricchio '77 (NDHS) 11-13-14


Madelyn Panks- '50 (SF) 10-13-14

Prayer list: click here


Email your prayers and petitions to

NDP = Notre Dame Prep; NDHS = Notre Dame High School; OC = Oakland Catholic; PC = Pontiac Catholic; SM = St. Michael; SF = St. Frederick.