The 1978 Awardees
William P. Blatty
William Peter ("Bill") Blatty, author and filmmaker of the 1973 film "The Exorcist", received the John Carroll Award in ceremonies held at the Plaza Hotel In Detroit, MI, on September 30, 1978.
The son of Lebanese immigrants, Blatty grew up New York, NY. The class valedictorian of Brooklyn Prep in 1946, his years at Georgetown built upon his deep Catholic faith and some fun along the way. A staff writer for the HOYA, Blatty notoriously stole the Fordham ram in a prank before the Hoyas' 1948 Homecoming football game; he also appeared in what would now be called an improvisational comedy group known as "Flask & Bottle", a wordplay on the more established Mask & Bauble.
Following Georgetown, Blatty served in the Air Force before and the United States Information Agency. He moved to Los Angeles to become a writer, but found himself as a public relations staffer at the University of Southern California. In 1961, he impersonated a Saudi prince on the quiz show "You Bet Your Life" , where the prize winnings allowed him to quit his P.R. job and become a full time writer.
Blatty wrote screenplays for a number of Hollywood comedies in the 1960's, including the original Pink Panther film, "A Shot In the Dark", but his crowning achievement was anything but comedic. In 1971, he wrote "The Exorcist", a book based on a 1949 Washington Post story on the possession of a Mt. Rainier, MD youth and his subsequent exorcism by a Jesuit priest. The book sold 13 million copies. The movie debuted two years later and was the second highest grossing film of the year, trailing only "The Sting". With generous doses of horror and sacrilege, good and evil, the movie was unlike any horror film of its kind. Blatty received the 1973 Academy Award for best screenplay.
Much of the movie was filmed on the Georgetown campus and was a tribute to the college Blatty loved. Its ending credits read: "A Hoya Production". Blatty wrote two other books that became movies, but it was The Exorcist that was his lasting legacy.
In his later years, Blatty was critical of Georgetown for its perceived failure to uphold the tenets of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the 1991 Vatican directive regarding fidelity in Catholic universities. Blatty championed an online petition and canon lawsuit against Georgetown to follow Ex Corde Ecclesiae or relinquish its Catholic identity. The suit was sent to Rome, but was not pursued further by the Vatican.
William Peter Blatty died in 2017 at the age of 89.
Charles T. Fisher III
AB 1951, Honorary degree 1990
Charles T. ("Chick") Fisher, former president of the National Bank of Detroit, received the John Carroll Award in ceremonies held at the Plaza Hotel In Detroit, MI, on September 30, 1978.
Fisher was a second generation Hoya: his father Charles Jr. graduated in 1928, while his uncle was Walter Briggs, a 1935 graduate and owner of the Detroit Tigers. The third generation of the family that built the Fisher Body Company, a subsidiary of General Motors, he earned his degree from Georgetown in 1951 and an MBA from Harvard in 1953. Upon the death of his father in 1958, he joined the National Bank of Detroit and became its president in 1972, a quarter century after his father held the same office. Fisher was president for the bank through 1983 and chairman for another decade before retiring in 1993.
Fisher was a member of the Georgetown University Board of Regents and received an honorary degree in 1990. He served on the governing boards at companies such as American Airlines, Detroit Edison, General Motors, Hiram Walker, ABC Networks, and National Steel.
Charles Fisher died in 2014 at the age of 84.
Hon. John B. McManus Jr.
John B. McManus, former chief justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court, received the John Carroll Award in ceremonies held at the Plaza Hotel In Detroit, MI, on September 30, 1978.
Judge McManus was born in Santa Fe in 1918, where his father served as the warden at the state prison. McManus joked that he was "the only Supreme Court justice in the country who was born in a penitentiary." graduating from Santa Fe High School in 1936, McManus was a three sport letterman at the University of new Mexico, briefly pursuing a minor league baseball career with the St. Louis browns organization before enrolling at Georgetown law School in the fall of 1941. he left after one year to become a bomber pilot in World War II, but returned after the war and received his LLB in 1947. After eight years in private practice, he was elected as district judge in 1955 and was elected to the state supreme court in 1971. In 1973 he was named chief justice and was reelected in 1978. Eligible for senior status on the bench, McManus once said that "I don't want to get too old so that I can't enjoy my retirement." Less than a year after receiving the John Carroll Award, McManus died of heart failure in 1979 at the age of 60.
Martha L. Mitchell
Martha Mitchell, a clinical nursing professor, received the John Carroll Award in ceremonies held at the Plaza Hotel In Detroit, MI, on September 30, 1978.
At the time of the award, Mitchell was assistant director of the Connecticut Mental Health Center and Associate Clinical Professor of the Yale School of Nursing.
James P. Reed
James P. ("Pat") Reed, executive secretary of the Georgetown University Alumni Association from 1969 to 1984, received the John Carroll Award in ceremonies held at the Plaza Hotel In Detroit, MI, on September 30, 1978.
A lifelong Washingtonian, Reed graduated from Gonzaga College High School before arriving at the Hilltop in 1949, graduating in 1953. Following military service in the Army Intelligence Corps, Reed joined the University in 1958 as the director of the Alumni Annual Fund. In 1960, he was named assistant executive secretary of the Association. He returned to the Annual Fund in 1966 for three years before being named executive secretary of the Association, a role now known as its executive director.
"During his tenure, he renewed interest in the Athletic Hall of Fame and assisted in the development of the alumni magazine," wrote the Washington Post. "He oversaw an increase in the Georgetown Alumni Annual Fund, which reached $2 million in annual contributions, and expanded regional alumni club programs."
Outside of Georgetown, Reed served on the board of two area savings and loans and was a past president of the Georgetown University Federal Credit Union. His financial acuity helped the Alumni Association achieve and maintain financial stability in the 1970's and 1980's.
Reed served as a special assistant to the president for alumni affairs from 1984 until his retirement in 1995. During this time, the Alumni Association dedicated the executive director's house on O Street as the Reed Residence in his honor. He died in 2001 at the age of 71.