Former Notre Dame sports info director Roger Valdiserri dies at age 95
Former Notre Dame coaching icon Ara Parsghian probably summed up best what Notre Dame meant to Roger Valdiserri and what Valdiserri meant to Notre Dame.
“No one ever understood Notre Dame better or represented it better,” Parseghian, Notre Dame’s legendary football coach from 1964–74 said in the book, “Strong of Heart.” “Roger’s importance to the university is immeasurable.”
On Thursday, the longtime Notre Dame sports information director and administrator, who told Notre Dame’s story like no one else, died at the age of 95. Here is his story via his obituary:
Oakbrook, IL - Thursday, June 2, 2022
Roger O. Valdiserri, renowned Sports Information Director at the University of Notre Dame for three decades, died Thursday, June 2 of natural causes at The Sheridan Place, a retirement community in Oakbrook Illinois. He was surrounded by his five children. In a statement released just after his death, the family said, “It is with great sadness that we announce the passing or our beloved father. We’ve been blessed to have had his unwavering love and support throughout his long and storied life. He was such a treasured gift. We feel particularly grateful to have celebrated his 95th birthday this past May among all 19 immediate family members. We feel his loss profoundly and will miss him tremendously. He leaves an enduring legacy, both as a giant in college athletics and in the very large, fun-loving family he and our mother, Elaine, built during 35 years of marriage. We have a lifetime of memories with him and our mom – which will certainly sustain us and bring comfort during this very difficult time.”
Valdiserri was born May 16, 1927, in Belle Vernon, PA to Sila and Lena Valdiserri. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1954. He launched his career with the Notre Dame Athletic Department, working as an administrative assistant to then head football coach, Frank Leahy and Terry Brennan. After graduation, Roger worked as public relations director for Studebaker, Mercedes-Benz of North America and in 1965, the Kansas City Chiefs, working for head coach, Hank Stram.
Valdiserri returned to his alma mater in 1966 and held various roles during his thirty-year tenure - as the school’s Sports Information Director (1966 – 1995) and Assistant Athletic Director (1976-1982). He was named Associate Athletic Director from 1983 until his retirement.
Among his many accomplishments, Valdiserri received an honorary Monogram in 1973, a special citation for meritorious service in 1987 from Notre Dame President, Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. and the James E. Armstrong Award from Notre Dame’s Alumni Senate in 1990.
Roger was inducted into the CoSIDA (College of Sports Information Directors Association) Hall of Fame in 1981 and served as president of CoSIDA from 1986 to 1987. He won the Arch Ward Award in 1987, presented to a CoSIDA member who has made outstanding contributions to the field of college sports information, and who by his or her actions, has brought dignity and prestige to the profession. In 2017, Valdiserri won the Jesse Harper Award, presented by the Notre Dame Monogram Club for outstanding service to Notre Dame Athletics.
Among Roger’s most gratifying moments while at the university were being part of two national championships (1966, 1973) under head coach Ara Parseghian (1964-74) and being named to the Knight Commission, an organization the late Notre Dame president, Father Ted Hesburgh (1952-87) created to lead reforms intended to strengthen the educational mission of college sports. https://www.knightcommission.org/.
The University of Notre Dame honored Valdiserri during the weekend of Purdue vs. Notre Dame home game, Sept. 17-18, 2021, where he witnessed his last of countless games from press row.
The university dedicated a permanent press box seat to Roger and announced the Roger Valdiserri Student Worker Program within Fighting Irish Media. As part of this program, the Roger Valdiserri Scholarship Award was established, to be given each year to the top Notre Dame student assistant working in Irish Media,
Beyond his accomplished career in college sports marketing, Roger was a true man of arts and letters - a brilliant writer, poet, artist, world traveler and opera lover. He also was known for his quick wit, infectious smile, love of a good laugh and his kind, generous and compassionate Spirit.
Roger is preceded in death by his father, Sila, his mother, Lena, his brother, Ernie and his wife, Elaine. He is survived by his five children: Rick (Nancy), Kathy (Gail), Ken (Annika), Tom (Shelly), and Susan; 7 grandchildren: Kristen (John Moorehead), Jenna (Ryan Haley), Steven (Kelsey), and 5 great grandchildren: George, Margot, Sally, Noah and Camden. A memorial service will be planned for a future date.
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