Remembrances: Robert Sedlack

I remember John fondly, though I was not so good a friend as Charlie Bowen, with whom he shared a humor column on The Scholastic, or others. To many, John probably seemed a "geek," round, not particularly handsome with prominent front teeth, but studious, cheerful (hence his nickname, "Jollivar") and sensitive.

Atypical for Notre Dame in the '50s where the norm was pretty macho, athletic or athletic wannabe. He had read a lot and made references to literature as he talked; in fact, I recall his fascination with Poe even then, which certainly points to his interest in the gothic. Also, that year a particularly grisly serial murderer in Wisconsin, Ed Gein, who used the skin of his victims for lampshades, was much in the news, and I have some memory of John being interested in the case and following it in the Chicago Tribune.

My most vivid memories of John come from junior year (1957-58) and Sorin Hall, that ancient, turreted dorm directly in front of Sacred Heart (then Church, Basilica now). John had one of those high-ceilinged rooms just inside the front door on the first floor, and it always seemed busy with people stopping in and out to chat. Unlike anyone else in our class, John had a pipe (although another character smoked cigars constantly), but I don't actually recall his smoking it. It was one of those curved jobs with a generous bowl. Perhaps he used it to project a kind of Dr. Watson image. In fact, he seemed a kind of Dr. Watson, not someone to initiate an action, but someone to confide in, ask for advice, share a late brandy with at midnight. Not that John imbibed ... in fact, I don't know that he did, though there was the usual college beer-swilling at Notre Dame then.

Although we were both English majors, I don't recall being in classes with John, but I think he was a good student. Charlie and he did turn out some good humor pages for the newsmagazine, which appeared on Fridays, and they were always dependable.