Hats Off to a Georgetown Gentleman

November 28, 2007

Sometime in the early 1980's, I had the pleasure of meeting a senior Georgetown alum from the state of California. It had to have been either at the Big East tournament or at an NCAA basketball tournament game. He was to become a regular at both. This genial Hoya fan must have been about 60 years old at the time, and while his hair had turned entirely white, he was as spirited a Hoya fan as I would ever meet. His name was Robert E. McDonough, son of Georgetown.

Following a long and productive life, Bob passed away one week ago.

Bob, a proud member of the Foreign Service class of 1949, was a self-made man. He was good to Georgetown, giving generously of his time and resources. I worked closely with Bob when he served as a member of both the Alumni Board of Governors and the Alumni Senate. I cheered at the gala dinner in Los Angeles when the Alumni Association recognized him in 1992 with the John Carroll award. Some years later, I had many conversations with Bob and his representatives about his wish to do something special for Georgetown. He ultimately chose to endow the business school.

Barbara Crocker '73 with Bob and Simone at the 2000 John Carroll weekend in Boca Raton

I got to attend several of the August send-off gatherings that Bob and his wife Simone hosted each year at their home in Capistrano Beach for first-year students. Of course, the setting was simply spectacular. But there was a special quality to these Hoya send-offs. Bob wanted every student on their way to the Hilltop to know that they had an obligation after graduation to become engaged and to give back to Georgetown throughout their lives. He was not shy about sharing this message with his young guests. And it was well received. By the way, those students usually came back for this event each year thereafter.

Bob visited with Athletic Director Bernard Muir during Homecoming 2005


During the past decade, Bob and Simone welcomed both the men's basketball team and lacrosse team to his home on the beach. I was fortunate to accompany both teams on their visit. And for many years, I also usually took the telephone calls from Bob come tournament time when he would unfailingly ask about securing Hoya basketball tickets.

Bob welcomed Brodie Merrill '05 and the Hoya lacrosse team to his abode

Just as Bob followed in the footsteps of the prototype California Hoya, Tom Leavey '23 (as in Leavey Center), so will hundreds of Hoyas in the future follow in Bob's footsteps.

But what I will remember most about Bob was his bulldog persistence. He was passionate about Georgetown and wanted to engender more graduates who shared his passion. He spoke of trying to infuse such sentiments into all Hoyas from the time they were admitted, through their years on campus, and throughout their alumni life. Bob consistently advocated this notion for as long as I knew him - over 25 years - and probably longer. As noted above with his beach blanket send-offs, he frequently put his words into action.

At the risk of oversimplification, the quintessence of Bob McDonough, for me, can be reduced completely -- to one Georgetown baseball cap. At one of the NCAA tourney weekends in the mid-1980's that Bob attended, he happened to stop by the Hoya headquarters room where Hoya gear was displayed and sold by staff from Yates field house. There, he found and purchased a Georgetown baseball cap that thereafter became part of his official Hoya uniform. He wore it with pride at each game he attended. It was the ultimate Georgetown hat he would tell me repeatedly. Within a few years, as the hat began to show its wear, Bob began asking me if he could get another one just like the original. I checked with Yates and found out they were not carrying the hat any longer. Bob continued to press for a new cap in his own inimitable style -- gently but resolutely. I subsequently contacted the manufacturer to see if they still made this particular cap. They did not. Would they consider reissuing it? No, they would not. More years went by. Bob never stopped asking about the hat. Finally, I asked Bob to bring his hat to campus so I could photograph it. Now armed with a 360-degree view of the headwear, I went to a local supplier and asked him to recreate the masterpiece. When it was done, I felt good - finally, I thought to myself. I sent the cap to Bob. Well, it's good, it's close, but keep working on it, came the reply.


The perfect Hoya hat according to Bob

Bob at 2007 Final Four in Atlanta with Ted Leonsis and GU president Jack DeGioia

The McDonough original


I guess I'll keep on trying to achieve hat perfection. Of course, now I'll never know if I end up reproducing it exactly as Bob wanted. Just like with the hat, Bob's expectations and standards for Georgetown were the highest of anyone I have known. However, after all these years, what I learned from Bob is that it is really not about actually reaching that ideal. It's all about the trying.


Hoya, hoya saxa.

Hoya, hoya Georgetown.

Hoya McDonough, McDonough, McDonough.


Requiescat in pace.


RETURN to VFTH Home


In 2005, Bob & Simone McDonough welcomed the 40+ traveling party of Georgetown's lacrosse team

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