Henry Hyde (C ’47), a 16-term Congressman and former Georgetown basketball player, died Thursday in Chicago, his hometown, at the age of 83.
Hyde – who represented Illinois’ Sixth District, an area of Chicago’s northwest suburbs, from 1975 until January – served as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee from 1995 until 2001, but is perhaps best known for his role as lead House manager during Clinton’s impeachment trial in 1998. Arguing that the nation’s president must be held to the highest standard, Hyde vocally contended that Congress should remove Clinton from office for perjury but ultimately fell short in his attempts.
For his service to the United States, Hyde was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Nov. 5, just weeks before his death.
Hyde was primarily a backup during his tenure with the men’s basketball team in the mid-40s, but he left his indelible mark on the history books during Georgetown’s second-round game of NCAA Tournament against DePaul on March 25, 1943.
The Hoyas were up four with 10 minutes left to play, but things started to turn downward after Georgetown center John Mahnken fouled out. Along came the 6-foot-3 Hyde, who was asked to guard 6-foot-10 future Hall of Famer George Mikan.
Hyde stunned the crowd by holding Mikan in check for the rest of the game, and the Hoyas held off DePaul and advanced with a 53-49 victory.
“I remember him vividly from the year that we went to the NCAA finals after our game against DePaul,” Miggs Reilly (C ’47), one of Hyde’s teammates, said. “Our big man John Mahnken fouled out and Henry Hyde came in and was a big contributor in the final minutes. He played a significant role in the winning of that game.”
Georgetown’s national title hopes were spoiled when they lost in the national finals, and Hyde was unable to play for the next two seasons because NCAA basketball was suspended for World War II. But he was already a Georgetown legend.
Reilly looked back fondly on the game and the experience of playing with Hyde. “He was always an individual who stood out as a strong personality,” he said. “He was always proud of his loyalty to the university and to our basketball program. We are some of the ancient ones.”
Fans observed a moment of silence for Hyde, along with Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor and McDonough School of Business benefactor Robert McDonough (SFS ’49), at Sunday’s men’s basketball game against Fairfield University.
Dan Kraus (C ’48), who knew Hyde as both a teammate and a roommate, fondly recalled the college days when he and “Hank” shared a dormitory in Copley Hall.
“He was a wonderful person. Georgetown is going to miss him and everyone else is going to miss him,” Kraus said.
Kraus said that Hyde had quite an interest in magic during his undergraduate days. “He was always making coins disappear and flipping them around,” he recalled.
Hyde’s penchant for coin tricks may have come from his father – Hyde was the son of a coin collector – George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who knew Hyde from his days as a congressional page, wrote in an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune on Friday.
Turley wrote that Hyde’s family could not afford the $1 monthly tuition to attend to St. Margaret Mary Catholic Elementary School, so he worked at the school to earn the extra money. During his days at St. George High School, he worked as a janitor to afford tuition. Fortunately for Hyde, he was able to attend Georgetown on a full basketball scholarship.
After his freshman year at Georgetown, Hyde left to serve in the Navy during World War II, seeing combat in the Philippines from 1944-1946. He returned to the Hilltop after his tour to complete his undergraduate degree and graduated from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 1949.
Hyde’s funeral and burial will be held Friday in Chicago.