Kerry Temple | January 22, 2017
Tom Suddes ’71 died September 26 at age 67. It’s hard to believe. Tom Suddes was a life force not easily extinguished — even with his two-year battle against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. There’s no way his life story ends there, though.
For one thing, there is the legacy. His lasting impact on generations of Notre Dame students — as a volunteer. Living on in the lives he changed. Hard to imagine anyone else making such tremendous personal contributions to the place as an unpaid volunteer. Few have made such a difference as full-time employees.
Then, too, there was the October 22 celebration of Suddes the father, coach, husband, boxer, entrepreneur, fundraiser, fun-giver, farm-maker and playful, grinning, indefatigable fountain of enthusiasm, joy, drive and humor held at Eagle Creek, the 50-acre farm-residence he and his high-school-sweetheart wife, Trudy, and their five kids tamed rock-by-stump out of the Ohio countryside near Columbus.
Two hundred people attended the Mass of Celebration that Saturday at Saint Brigid of Kildare Church in Dublin, Ohio, and 250 made it to Eagle Creek for the reception. There were outdoor events for the kids, a hayride and evening bonfire. The afternoon buffet reflected Suddes’ fondness for breakfast, with bacon, eggs, French toast, mounds of cereal and his favorite vegetable, candy corn.
Dozens of Bengal Bouts boxers were there, and all his roommates and their spouses from Notre Dame’s long-departed Holy Cross Hall. Suddes, the oldest of five siblings growing up in central Illinois, had been president of Holy Cross Hall and chairman of the Hall Presidents Council. He boxed in Bengal Bouts all four years, was champion twice and served as club president.
Memories, stories, laughter and tears were triggered by talks and tributes and hundreds of photos and notes, a lifetime’s worth of memorabilia and a “boxing corner” with Notre Dame trunks, robes, gloves and awards. And there was the boxer’s final 10-bell farewell salute.