Sept. 7, 2006
Easter Heathman, the unofficial caretaker of the Knute Rockne plane crash site near Bazaar, Kan., will be presented with an honorary monogram by the Notre Dame Monogram Club on Friday, Sept. 8, 2006, during the Notre Dame-Penn State pep rally in Notre Dame Stadium.
Rockne, Notre Dame's legendary Hall of Fame football coach, and eight other men perished in a tragic airplane crash near the tiny hamlet of Bazaar in the Flint Hills of Kansas on March 31, 1931.
Within minutes after the crash--a 13-year-old boy arrived at the site with his father and brother. Little did that boy -- Easter Heathman -- realize that more than 75 years later his name still would be linked to Rockne.
In the years following the crash, Heathman began what would be a long and remarkable life. He served his country honorably during World War II and raised his family and earned a living farming 600 acres of land in his beloved Flint Hills.
A major part of his life, however -- particularly the last 25 years -- has been devoted to preserving the memory of Rockne. He has cared for the crash site, helped organize three Rockne Memorial Ceremonies, provided the national media with accounts of that fateful day in 1931 -- and given tours of the site to hundreds people from all over America and several foreign countries.
Presenting the award Friday will be Monogram Club president Julie Doyle, executive director Jim Fraleigh, Monogram winner Dr. Dennis Nigro, along with former College Football Hall of Fame executive director Bernie Kish (who now lives in Lawrence, Kan.).
Heathman previously was honored with a Notre Dame shadow box in March at ceremonies at the crash site marking the 75th anniversary of Rockne's death.
Among the approximately 200 recipients of honorary monograms include former Presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, former Notre Dame president Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C, and former Irish football coaches Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz.