Morris Inn memories live on in gift to archives

Author: Gene Stowe

Norma Boyer

Norma Boyer carried her camera to the Morris Inn Christmas party in 1974 and took some snapshots to record the event for posterity. Posterity will find them in University Archives.

Boyer, a dining room server who retired several years ago but still helps out a couple of days a week, this year gave the archives nearly 40 albums—more than 10,000 pictures—from her career at the inn.

“I always carried my camera to work with me,” says Boyer, who usually used a 35-millimeter camera but had a disc camera for a few years. “I started there in 1974. I just like to take pictures. Whenever we got a new employee, I’d take a picture of them.”

In addition to portraits of new hires, the collection portrays staff parties and events, including a summer picnic outing as well as the annual Christmas party. Boyer shot wedding pictures for some coworkers, and she recorded the renovation of the campus entrance on Notre Dame Avenue.

“They had a big mound there and it had a big ND made of flowers as you went in off Angela,” she recalls. “I would drive in to work that way, so I took pictures of the progress.”

Boyer, who had seen the chaotic downside of tossing pictures into a footlocker for storage, made sure to put the photographs in albums as soon as they were printed. Each album holds at least 300 pictures.

“Year by year, I’d fill one album and the next time I’d fill the next album,” she says. “There’s a lot of pictures there. Every once in a while, I’d bring the picture books in to let everybody look through them.”

The 1987 volume preserves pictures of famous people who stayed at the Morris Inn during the Special Olympics hosted on campus.

“I got pictures of John Kennedy Jr. and Caroline and quite a few of the people that were there,” Boyer says. “The whole Morris Inn was bought out by the Special Olympics, so a lot of them were staying there. On a few of them, their autographs are there.”

Her favorite visitor, by far, is President Emeritus Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C.

“He’s the love of my life,” Boyer says. “He was always such a good person. He would always come in. No matter how high up he was, he’d talk to everybody—dishwashers, everybody. He always paid attention to the waiters because at one time he was a wait staff. He knows what it was.”

Boyer used her serving role to promote Notre Dame to families who came on college visits.

“It’s hard work, but I loved it,” she says. “I love Notre Dame. I tell everybody I talk to, it’s like a big family. Parents would come in with their children to visit Notre Dame. I’d say, it’s a good, good choice. You won’t be sorry.”