Who Was Joseph Buttigieg, Mayor Pete's Beloved Dad and a Notre Dame Professor?

He had a huge impact on his only son, now a 2020 candidate.

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Rising 2020 candidate Pete Buttigieg, a.k.a. "Mayor Pete," has drawn comparisons to Barack Obama for his calm, unflappable, and sensitive demeanor. And that sensitivity and appreciation extends to his family, which includes Buttigieg's husband Chasten Glezman, the couple's adorable dogs, and Buttigieg's family in South Bend, Indiana. An only child, Buttigieg has always been close with his parents and particularly with his father, Joseph Buttigieg, a University of Notre Dame professor who sadly passed away just a few months ago.

The senior Buttigieg, a household name in the area, was a respected professor and beloved family man. His last words were “It’s been a good trip," according to an obituary in the South Bend Tribune. Announcing the news of his father's passing, Pete, his only child, wrote on Facebook: "So it has. We love you, Dad."

Since announcing the possibility that he'd run for president, Buttigeig has courted attention from the national press, and has proved unexpectedly popular with donors. It's clear that the senior Buttigieg had a profound impact on "Mayor Pete," who is now carrying on his father's legacy in South Bend and, as of this spring, taking his talents to the national stage.

Joseph was a respected professor at the University of Notre Dame.

Professor Buttigieg, a.k.a. "JAB" or "Prof. B," was born in Malta, came to the U.S. to pursue his doctorate, and became a well-known literary critic.

Passionate about the pursuit of learning from the start of his formal education, Dr. Buttigieg earned both a bachelors and a masters degree at the University of Malta. He went on to earn a Ph.D from New York's Binghamton University before moving southwest after being offered a teaching position at New Mexico State University, where he met fellow faculty member Jennifer Montgomery—the woman who would later become his wife and mother to his son Pete.

The professor started working at Notre Dame in the '80s and was an English professor at the prestigious university until 2017, even serving as the department chair at one point. (A personal note: Though I never met him, he was a certified legend by the time I went to ND for undergrad. Everyone, including non-liberal arts majors, knew and loved him, and his courses were always in crazy-high demand.) You can read the school's tribute to him here.

But he had time for silliness too.

They used to play video games together—and there's photographic evidence.

He passed on a love of learning.

Fellow English professor Sara Marcus wrote about their relationship after Joseph's death:

In Shortest Way Home, Joe comes across not as a tenured radical but as a brilliant and caring father who received his son’s coming-out with equanimity, kept a Creedence Clearwater Revival cassette on years-long repeat in his Chevy Cavalier, and made sure Pete knew what a big deal it was to be studying at Harvard with the famed literary scholar Sacvan Bercovitch.

He walked Pete down the aisle.

It's clear that Joseph and wife Anne Montgomery were beaming with pride on the day of Pete's wedding to Chasten Glezman (just look at those smiles!).

He was proud of his son's aspirations.

When Pete went on The View earlier this month, he shared the interaction with his father. "I told him I hoped I would make him proud,” Pete said. “And he was on a ventilator by then, but around it, he mouthed the words, ‘You will.’” I am weeping.

Pete posted a sweet, sad tribute.

After Joseph passed away, Pete said, "[W]e are left with memories of his powerful intellect, his extensive legacy, his personal warmth and his deeply felt love for Mom, me, and all those close to him."

"The last thing he said to us was, 'it’s been a good trip.' So it has. We love you, Dad."


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