Athletics News

Leo Barnhorst Tribute

Comments from Tom Barnhost: "My mom Shirley is here, 49 and a half years of marriage to my dad, also my brother Bill, my wife Laura, my sister Ann was here, and my oldest brother Mark was unable to attend. ... On behalf of the Barnhorst family, I just wanted to say a special thank you to everybody, a real sincere gratitude to the Monogram Club, Father Riehle, and everybody, on the memorial bench that was placed out on the 12th hole today. I don't know if everyone had a chance to see it. ... It's really an incredible tribute to Leo [see adjoining photos].

"A quick note on my dad, my junior year here at Notre Dame in 1987, he came down and was diagnosed with cancer. He had lymphoma, and in his 13-year battle with cancer, it included four major chemotherapy treatments which would last anywhere between six and nine months. The cancer would then go back into remission, and he fought with a really incredible attitude and spirit and approach to it. A key point to this fight was this university, particularly the Monogram Club. It really gave him hope to fight through those 13 years... . It was about five years ago and he was going through his third series of chemo treatments. It's a very rigid schedule on your treatments and he would have missed his Monogram Club meeting, and that would have interrupted his 50-year consecutive string of coming to these meetings, and he was able to convince the doctor's staff to rearrange things to make this happen.

"But that was really his commitment to this University, as well as this Monogram Club. So, again, I just want to thank everybody, and not only for the memorial, Father Riehle your support, but more importantly, what this group did to give my dad hope so that he could continue to fight, which gave us many extra, special years with Dad. Thanks."

LEO BARNHORST TRIBUTE
(originally printed in 2000-01 Notre Dame men's basketball media guide and January 2000 issue of Inside Irish)

By Pete LaFleur

The motto "God, country, Notre Dame" fittingly has applied to many Notre Dame student-athletes, particularly those from the World War II years. That golden era of Notre Dame athletics recently bid farewell to one of its most dedicated members, as All-America basketball player and longtime Monogram Club board member Barnhorst passed away on Aug. 25, 2000, in his native Indianapolis.

Barnhorst remains on the short list of Notre Dame's all-time great basketball players and he established an Irish record by starting all 72 games of his Notre Dame career.

Seated (from left): Creighton Miller and Johnny Lujack.

Standing (from left): Ray Sobota, Jim Murphy and Tad Eckert.

"Barney," as he was known to friends, earned All-America honors in basketball-but he earned all-world status off the hardcourt during the past 50 years, due to his tireless efforts in affairs of the Indianapolis community, the University of Notre Dame and its National Monogram Club.

Barnhorst's funeral service in Indianapolis included a Monogram Club honor guard that served as pallbearers, among them current Club president Mike Heaton, first vice president Jim Carroll, second vice president Dave Duerson and past presidents Marty Allen, Ray Sobota, Dan Shannon, Bill Fischer and Lanc Smith. Current Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White and former A.D. Dick Rosenthal also were in attendance and Monogram Club executive director Rev. James Riehle, C.S.C., served as celebrant at the requiem mass.

While playing alongside consensus All-America guard-and lifelong friend-Kevin O'Shea, Barnhorst often was overshadowed in the boxscore by his more highly-touted teammate. But those close to the program-including head coach Moose Krause, an All-America basketball player for the Irish in his own right-clung to a lasting appreciation for Barnhorst's value to those 1946-49 Notre Dame teams, which compiled a 54-18 record with three-year starter Barnhorst in the lineup.

It is rare in any sport to find a player who is considered an "unsung hero" that goes on to earn All-America honors, but that's just what happened to Barnhorst as a senior in 1948-49.

Credited with being the embodiment of the spirit that made the Notre Dame teams of the late 1940s so hard to beat, Barnhorst was a versatile player who starred both at forward and guard. Tough man-to-man defense and relentless rebounding were the trademarks of the husky 6-3 Barnhorst, who likewise rose to the occasion on the offensive end-highlighted by a sweeping righthanded hook shot-while leading the '48-'49 team with 290 points. Barnhorst also nearly surpassed the Notre Dame career scoring record held by the great Johnny Moir (780 points, 1936-38) but he fouled out of his final game just two points shy of tying the record.

After a five-season career in professional basketball with four NBA teams, Barnhorst earned sales agent emeritus honors with American United Life (insurance) after a 45-year career.

In his business life, he was named Indiana Underwriter of the Year, and in 1989 was presented the Distinguished Service Award by the American Society of Life Underwriters.

Barnhorst was a star at Indianapolis Cathedral High School before enrolling at Notre Dame, an education interrupted by a hitch as a sergeant in the Army Air Corps.

Barnhorst never did things halfway. Not only did he start the 72 consecutive games from 1946-49 but he attended 50 consecutive summer meetings of the Notre Dame National Monogram Club.

The Monogram Club of today is a legacy of Barnhorst's work. He served as the Club's president in the late '60s before filling several key duties as an advisor during the last 30 years.

Barnhorst-who also had served as president of the former undergraduate division of the Monogram Club-was chairman of the Club's membership committee during the 1980s and early 1990s, when he took it upon himself to personally contact all prospective members while building the Club into its current thriving status.

He also served for several years as a member of the Monogram Club's Sports Heritage Hall committee, which has overseen construction of the popular Joyce Center trophy display areas while laying plans for future interactive offerings. Barnhorst was presented with the Monogram Club member-of-the-year award in 1989.

Barnhorst served the Notre Dame Club of Indianapolis as president and director and was selected its Notre Dame Person of the Year in 1967. He was chairman of the building fund for his church (St. Luke's) and for 25 years was a principal force in raising more than $1 million for a Notre Dame Indianapolis scholarship fund.

Seated (from left): Mike Heaton and Rev. James Riehle, C.S.C.

Standing (from left): Creighton Miller, Dave Duerson, Katie King, Marty Allen, Allan Targgart, Jim Murphy, Dan Saracino, Ray Sobota, Tad Eckert, Tom Martin, Johnny Lattner, Bob Kessing and Marc Kelly.

An honor student in the commerce school and a 1949 graduate in accounting, Barnhorst raised three sons and a daughter with his wife Shirley (Freihage). He also is survived by a brother Howard and four grandchildren.

The 2000-01 Notre Dame men's basketball media guide was dedicated to Barnhorst's memory while a bench near the teebox of the 12th hole at Warren Golf Course was dedicated to Barnhorst in June of 2001 (see photos above).

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