Reaction to death of the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh

AP News
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Posted: Feb 27, 2015 8:19 PM

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Reaction to the death of the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, who helped transform the University of Notre Dame while serving as its president from 1952 to 1987:

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"During his lifetime of service to his country, his church, and his beloved University of Notre Dame, Father Hesburgh inspired generations of young men and women to lead with the courage of their convictions. His deep and abiding faith in a loving God, and in the power of our shared humanity, led him to join the first-ever United States Civil Rights Commission, and join hands with Dr. King to sing 'We Shall Overcome.' His belief that what unites us is greater than what divides us made him a champion of academic freedom and open debate. ...

"Father Hesburgh often spoke of his beloved university as both a lighthouse and a crossroads — the lighthouse standing apart, shining with the wisdom of the Catholic tradition, and the crossroads joining the differences of culture, religion and conviction with friendship, civility, and love. The same can be said of the man generations of students knew simply as 'Father Ted.'" -- President Barack Obama.

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"Father Hesburgh has devoted his long and consequential life to serving humanity, always taking courageous stands on the serious moral issues that have faced our nation and the world from his fight for civil and human rights and against nuclear proliferation and global hunger to his ongoing efforts to seek peace among people in conflict. .... Father Hesburgh has made the world a better place — for those of us whose lives he has touched directly and as an inspiration for generations to come." -- Former President Jimmy Carter, who said he had been friends with Hesburgh for 40 years.

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"Hillary and I mourn the passing and celebrate the remarkable life of Father Hesburgh. His brilliant stewardship of Notre Dame produced generations of leaders and scholars whose hearts and minds were shaped by his example. Hillary and I were proud to call him friend and counselor, and I was honored to present his Congressional Gold Medal. We will always remember his great sense of humor and his dauntless faith, his staunch advocacy for civil rights and a peaceful planet, and his lifelong commitment to public service. His entire life was a constant reminder of our common humanity. Our prayers are with his family, the Notre Dame family, and his legion of friends throughout the world." -- Former President Bill Clinton.

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"This is a day of both personal sadness and celebration of a singular life. I will sorely miss Father Ted, my friend and mentor of 40 years. His commitment to education and social justice was infectious and I am grateful for having experienced his common touch, his sense of humor, his love of learning and his passion for Notre Dame. When my father died, Father Hesburgh wrote to me that my dad was now 'resting in the loving hands of our savior, bathed in the light of eternal life.' Now too, does our beloved friend." -- Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who earned a master's degree in government and international studies from Notre Dame in 1975, and was a Notre Dame board of trustees member from 1994 to 2001.

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"He counseled presidents and popes. But he was first and foremost a priest, one who ministered to the homeless, the poor and those in need. That is when he also was happiest. We were so lucky to have him touch our lives. And those of us in Indiana were fortunate enough to experience him as our friend and neighbor." -- U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, who was a student at Notre Dame in the 1970s.

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"With his leadership, charisma and vision, he turned a relatively small Catholic college known for football into one of the nation's great institutions for higher learning."

"For me personally, Father Ted was a brother in Holy Cross, a mentor, a friend and a model of what a priest should be. I think of his example every day I serve as Notre Dame's president. Although saddened by his death, I take consolation in knowing he is now in the company of heaven praying for all of us."

-- The Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame's current president.

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"The Book of Proverbs tells us that 'as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.' Father Hesburgh enriched innumerable lives with his visionary leadership and faithful service." -- U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana.

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"Indiana has lost a man of unwavering faith, profound vision and monumental virtue in the passing of Father Theodore Hesburgh. ... Father Hesburgh's accomplished life epitomized servant leadership and made a critical impact in advancing and bettering our world. His legacy will endure always and, without doubt, will continue to inspire individuals across the world to pursue a life of peace and justice." -- Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence.

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"Father Hesburgh understood that a university is first and foremost an institution of higher education, and he coupled that understanding with a deep appreciation of the role of coaches as perhaps the most impactful educators on a college campus. He became an ardent proponent of the rules that guide our sport because of the educational benefits that it has on the players who have the opportunity to participate at the college level. We are forever in his debt." -- National Football Foundation President Steve Hatchell.