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"Boomerang Domers" taking over South Bend

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Each football season, thousands of Notre Dame alums flock to South Bend for the weekend to cheer on the Fighting Irish. However, some of them decided to stay longer than two or three days.

For a group of alumni, South Bend is their home again. They call themselves “boomerang domers”, and say there are dozens of people like them in the city.

“It was like you throw a boomerang,” said boomerang domer John Blum. “It starts here, goes out, stays out, for a while then circles again and comes back, and that’s what we did. “

Blum said boomerang domers are people who graduated between 1959 and 1971 who are now retired. Instead of living out their golden years in the cities they raised their families and had careers, the recently moved back to South Bend.

Blum and his wife, Mary, lived in St. Louis for almost 40 years. Two years ago they returned to South Bend. They estimate there are up to 40 other couples like them in the area.

For the boomerang domers, returning to the area was a special feeling.             

“I have a much better appreciation for South Bend community now than when I was a student,” said John Blum.

“We had been coming back and forth for games and etc., and we looked at one another and said do we want to stay in this little farming town of 1700 people? And the answer was quickly not on your life,” said Gini Bertoni. “From then on, it was go ahead.”

“It helps to be around young people,” said Tom Sullivan. “I’ll walk around campus, I’ll end up having conversation with two students, say, ‘Where ya from?’ I really just didn’t want to say ‘Hey, I found where we got our pill we take John, we can get it for a penny cheaper.’ We didn’t want that.”

The boomerang domers aren’t watching TV or playing golf every day either. They’re spending their time volunteering at places like St. Margaret’s House in South Bend.

The domers said it’s not right to not give back to a community that set them up for success.

“With the people, the friendships, the opportunity to give back to the community and give back to a place that molded us to where we are from where we started at Notre Dame, that’s offered here. Where else New York, St. Louis, there was something missing,” said Blum. 

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