Margaret Fosmoe ’85 | December 15, 2020
A century ago today, Notre Dame and the nation grieved the death of George Gipp.
It didn’t seem possible that Gipp, the vibrant star halfback of coach Knute Rockne’s undefeated 1920 football team, could be gone. A denizen of South Bend gambling dens who spent most of his college years living off his winnings in a local hotel rather than in a campus residence hall, he could work the same magic with a pool cue, cards or dice in his hands as he did with a football.
Gipp died at 3:23 a.m. December 14, 1920 at St. Joseph Hospital in South Bend. He was 25. His passing stunned his family, classmates, sportswriters and football fans across the country.
At Notre Dame on December 15, flags flew at half staff and classes were canceled so students could attend a Requiem Mass in Sacred Heart Church. Hundreds of students then accompanied Gipp’s coffin to the New York Central train station in South Bend, where it would be transported to his hometown of Laurium, Michigan. His teammates led the solemn procession, South Bend newspapers reported, walking in their football formation — with Gipp’s spot left vacant.
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