How did you meet Pam?

The first day of college — Illinois Teachers College. She was from the far east side and I was from the far southwest side of Chicago. It took another few years to finally get together.


What was your childhood on the south side like?

We were true south side Irish — or, I thought I was Irish until I was about 14 years old, when I found out I also was German. On the south side of Chicago, you really lived the Irish life. My mom just died last August at the age of 96 and she hosted about 90 people every year for Christmas — brothers and sisters, in-laws, 25 grandchildren and spouses, 30 great-grandchildren.


Even though you’re from the Chicago area and lived most of your life there, you have some deep roots in the Fontana/Lake Geneva area, too, don’t you?

I’ve been coming up here to Fontana since 1955 with the family; my aunt had a place, and we would come at least once or twice a summer and once in the winter. Once I retired, that’s the reason we moved up here. I’m still a deacon in Chicago, but I was really happy I could transfer and serve up here.


What did you like about teaching?

Well, I remember in high school my biology teacher told me, “You know, you don’t have to be the smartest person in the world to be a teacher.” So all of us were sitting there thinking, maybe we could do that.


Did you feel, as a teacher, a certain sense of responsibility that’s similar to what you feel for your parishioners?

Oh yes, I’m still in that way a teacher. Every time I give a homily it’s like teaching. You prepare that way, almost like a lesson plan.


You and Pam are kind of a dynamic duo. What are her strengths in the partnership?

She’s the planner, list-maker, organizer. I do all the easy stuff, the day-to-day stuff. We’ve worked together as members of the Christian Family Movement, the Peace and Justice Task Force at St. Thomas More Parish in Munster, Indiana, and at St. Walter Parish in Chicago. Today, I am her support for the St. Vincent de Paul Society at St. Benedict; I accompany her on home visits, move furniture donations and work in the Big Foot Food Pantry.


Where is the most interesting place you have ever traveled?

Pam won a trip to London at a raffle for the Ronald McDonald House; so we went to London and that was fascinating. We also took a side trip and went up to Edinburgh. London was interesting but it was a lot of modern buildings, because of all that was destroyed during the war, and when we went to Edinburgh it was more of a medieval town. The roads were all slanted one way on the side of the hill — it was like Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.


We’re all isolating now and going a bit stir-crazy; so we’re ripe for some recommendations of shows to binge-watch. What’s your favorite TV show, and on what platform?

I like anything on PBS. We’re members and we love PBS. Just recently I watched this new one that’s got me fascinated — it’s called “Vienna Blood,” and it’s a mystery and whodunit-type thing. I also like “Fr. Brown,” “Call the Midwife” and “Death in Paradise.”


How about movies?
The two movies I could watch anytime are “The Quiet Man” and “50 First Dates.”


Do you have a hidden talent?

I guess it would be recycling. I’ve always been an ecologist, and I’m always trying to get everybody on the same page. At St. Ben’s is a good start, when we have the fish fries serving upwards of 500 people — six every Lent, though we only were able to do three this year. We have real plates and coffee cups so we’re not wasting that kind of thing. I try to never throw out things — I probably drive people crazy. But I want my grandchildren to have a decent place. I always think about them. What we’re doing now is going to affect them.


What are your favorite holidays?

The Fourth of July and Halloween. I love firework displays. I also organized, for 30 years, a Halloween tradition that brought over 2,000 trick-or-treaters annually to our block when we lived in Illinois. I dressed up as a stuffed scarecrow and a mad monk. I scared generations of parents and kids.