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Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024
The Observer

Regis Philbin on Fr. Hesburgh

Naturally, I am stunned and saddened by the passing of Fr. Hesburgh. We all knew it was coming one day, but when it did it was like a tremendous loss for all of us and our school. The first time I saw Fr. Hesburgh was in the 1950s. I was working in the small ice cream parlor behind the cigarette stand, and I could hear a crowd forming behind our building.  I opened the window to see what was going on and there he was, shovel in hand, getting ready for the next building. I swear to you he looked just like [the actor] Tyrone Power. Good-looking, smiling and ready to bring Notre Dame to its next level. I remember him handing me my diploma in the Stadium with a big smile and then I was off to the service. Years later, working in Hollywood, I was asked to host a Notre Dame meeting. It was Fr. Hesburgh and Frank Leahy. What a night. What a team.

I've been to Washington D.C. when he was there surrounded by Senators and Congressmen. Everybody knew him and loved him. At Notre Dame games, I always made it a point to see him up in one of the booths, to shake his hand and thank him for everything. Once I couldn't resist, I gave him a kiss on the cheek. He was just that kind of man to all of us, and we will never forget him and neither will Notre Dame.

Regis Philbin

Class of 1953 media personality

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.