Caretaker of Knute Rockne’s plane crash site passes away

A man who helped keep alive an important part of American history died Tuesday evening at his home in Kansas.

Easter Heathman was the caretaker and historian for the site of the plane crash that took the life of Knute Rockne in 1931.

Mr. Heathman was 13 years old when he and his father were two of the first people to arrive at the site of the crash where Rockne died.

To the very end of his life, Mr. Heathman could tell the story of what happened on March 31, 1931 from his keen memory.

He was the last surviving member of those who were present after the plane crashed.

Professional historians, authors, and those merely curious about Rockne often sought out Mr. Heathman to get his recollections about what happened.

Mr. Heathman would often personally take visitors to the crash site on the Flint Hills near Bazaar, Kansas.

He told me in 2006 that he could remember the tragic day as if it were this morning. Even the smell of spilt aviation fuel remained with him.

To the end of his life, Easter Heathman considered it his duty and responsibility to maintain and keep alive the memory of the former Notre Dame coach.

In 2006, Mr. Heathman and his family toured the Rockne exhibit at the Northern Indiana Center for History.

He was awarded an honorary monogram by Notre Dame that same year.

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