healy hall with blue skies and clouds behind
Category: Fall 2020, Georgetown Magazine

Title:Lives Well Lived—Fall 2020

Lives Well Lived honors a few alumni who have recently passed away with short obituaries. We share with you these portraits of alumni beyond the headlines who have made an indelible impact living day-to-day.

You can find an In Memoriam list at alumni.georgetown.edu/in-memoriam.

T. David Stapleton Jr. (C’64, Parent)

T. David Stapleton Jr.

Meghan Stapleton Steenburgh (C’94) says that her father, David Stapleton, who died on May 15, 2020, at age 77, was such a dedicated alumnus that he died wearing a Georgetown T-shirt.

Stapleton and his wife of nearly 54 years, Helene, lived in Auburn, New York, where they settled after he earned his law degree from The Catholic University of America. Stapleton practiced law and served as an Assistant District Attorney for Cayuga County. Steenburgh says that her father’s “true legal passion” emerged in the second half of his career, when he began a focus on elder law. He served on the Executive Committee of the Elder Law Section of the New York State Bar Association, including as chair—“antique chair,” as he jokingly referred to himself—of the 3,000-member section, which advocates for the elderly and those with special needs. Stapleton received numerous awards for his work.

Stapleton was an alumni admissions interviewer for more than 50 years and helped establish a scholarship in his parents’ name to assist Central New York students attend Georgetown.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Stapleton is survived by another daughter, Shannon, son David (C’95), four grandchildren, and many close Hoya friends. He was the son of Thomas D. Stapleton, M.D. (C’34, M’38).

Marie-Marcelle Buteau Racine (G’70)

Marie-Marcelle Buteau Racine

Marie-Marcelle Buteau Racine, who emigrated with her husband, Etzer, to the United States in 1963 from Haiti, took part in history that year when she joined an estimated 250,000 participants at the National Mall for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

“It was there, by the Reflecting Pool, [that] she added her voice to that collective call for change, that she discovered an abiding love for the United States of America,” wrote her son, Karl, in The Washington Post. Decades later, in 2017, in her 80s, she attended the Women’s March, holding a handwritten sign that read, “Welcome to the New Civil Rights Era.”

Fluent in eight languages, Racine received a doctorate in French and theoretical linguistics from Georgetown in 1970. She was a professor of French Language and Literatures for 45 years at the University of the District of Columbia, where she held many administrative positions, including department chair, associate dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, and as acting dean. She was a Fulbright- Hays Fellow in 2002 and retired as professor emerita in 2013. Racine was part of many social justice causes.

Racine died on July 23, 2020, at age 86. In addition to her son, she is survived by a daughter, Mikaele, and a sister.

Robert J. Menegaz, M.D. (C’58, M’62)

Robert J Menegaz

Robert J. Menegaz grew up in New Jersey, not far from the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, where his Italian immigrant father, Enrico, had entered the United States. As he worked his way through Georgetown, Menegaz regularly wrote to his parents, sharing stories of his student life and thanking them for their sacrifices—letters that his mother kept for decades.

Menegaz served as a Navy medical officer and practiced internal medicine and cardiology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “Dr. Bob,” as he was called by everyone, was known for making house calls on foot or by folding bike until his later years. Mindful of his roots, Menegaz provided free care to indigent patients.

His wife, Donna, recalls that when she was helping her husband clean out his office after his retirement, she found a thick folder of letters and evaluations from residents he had trained over the years. In addition to thanking him for teaching clinical care and physical examination, the letters had another theme. “Over and over, the former residents said that Bob had shown them the importance of being compassionate,” she says.

Menegaz died on September 11, 2020, at his home in Sarasota, at age 84. In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children, their spouses, and three grandchildren.

John G. Conaghan (C’67, L’71)

John G. Conaghan with diane

Diane Dubiel describes her longtime friend and companion, John Geoffrey Conaghan, as a man with a keen mind and natural wit, who told fascinating stories on any subject, from 1960’s rock stars to the history of a molecule. Fluent in five languages, his wide interests and knowledge seemed boundless. She recalls him being unbeatable at trivia, a trait that likely qualified him for an invitation to be a Jeopardy contestant. “He won more bottles of wine as prizes at local trivia nights than I can remember,” Dubiel says.

In addition to his bachelor’s and J.D. from Georgetown, Conaghan earned an MBA at Columbia University. He had an avid interest in geology and metals, and in his quest for advances in clean soil technology, he founded several patented mining equipment companies in Alaska and Nevada.

Dubiel fondly remembers a trip to D.C. early in their relationship. “We hired a cab driver for an afternoon, just to take us around Georgetown,” she recalls. “We saw the campus and also the pubs and hangouts John had loved as a student. It was such fun.”

Conaghan passed away in San Francisco on March 13, 2020. In addition to Dubiel, he is survived by his brother, Bill, and many friends.

“John taught me to love the Hoyas, and I’ll keep watching them,” Dubiel says.

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