On the basketball court, Bob Naughton (Class of 1960) was a standout in the late 1950s on some of Coach Vince Dowd's greatest teams, particularly the 17-7 team that advanced to the NCAA College Division Tournament in 1958-59. He is remembered as a consummate team player and rugged rebounder. However, that was just a foretaste of heights and achievements to come. Naughton became an American hero.
The lanky 6-foot-3 forward out of Cedar Rapids Immaculate Conception was a four-year mainstay. He was a junior varsity regular as a freshman, saw spot varsity action as a sophomore, and concluded his career with two spectacular seasons. If rebounds had been kept as an official statistic, he would likely rank among the top ten in school history. As a junior he scored 10.6 points a game (a very strong number when you consider the meager scoring of the 1950s and that squad also had two other future Hall of Famers Jack Frasco and Gene ``Tiny'' Potts). As a senior, Naughton averaged 12.9 points on a rebuilding squad that won only four games.
Teammates recall Naughton as a scrapper and a big game player. His 24-point game as a junior led Loras over St. Thomas. In the 1958-59 small college NCAA's he was a first team all-tournament selection and had a team-high 20 points in one game.
Early on Naughton showed he could excel off the court. He was president of his freshman class, a three-year student senator and a member of the clerics for three years. In 1960, he was the first recipient of the coveted Father Daniel Coyne Award given annually to the athlete with a high grade point and success in his sport.
Upon graduation, Naughton became a naval aviator, serving for 27 years, including two tours in Vietnam and from 1967-73 was a POW. During his military career he received a Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, a Bronze Star, several Purple Hearts and numerous other decorations. But most of all he earned the admiration of a country for his heroic military deeds. In 1989, he joined NASA and was Division Chief of Aircraft Operations at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. He logged 6,500 flight hours before retiring in 2004. In 2005, The Robert and Peggy Naughton Scholarship Fund was established with the first preference being given to a military service person.
Naughton and his wife, the former Peggy McCarthy (a 1960 Clarke graduate), live in Houston. They have three children -Kevin, Tim, and Mike -and nine grandchildren. Peggy and Bob are active in their community as mentors and chaplains in a ministry program that aids soon-to-be released prisoners.