Football legend Gale Sayers had ties to Wakarusa

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 5:42 PM EDT
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WAKARUSA, Ind. (WNDU) - Football legend Gale Sayers passed away last night at his home away from home in Wakarusa.

Sayers was first introduced to the Wakarusa way of life in 1966 when he was invited by town physician Robert Abel to speak at the final sports banquet at Wakarusa High School before it merged with Nappanee.

A friendship formed and Sayers returned to the area again and again.

In 1977, Sayers served as the Grand Marshall in the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Parade.

In the mid 1980s Sayers and his wife, Ardie, bought property in Wakarusa.

“This was our summer home. It was a place that we could just get away and enjoy ourselves and just mix with the people in the community and I must say they are wonderful. Everyone from the church, people in town, we live here like family,” Gale’s wife Ardie Sayers told 16 News Now in an interview over the telephone.

While Sayers didn’t come to Wakarusa to run for mayor, he didn’t go there to hide, either.

“You know he’d just drop in for a cheese burger, two in the afternoon, everybody knew him. It was like he was part of the community,” remembered Stanley Cook with Cook’s Pizza.

Sayers went to church in Wakarusa and made the rounds.

“He loved the kind of small, one-on-one kind of stuff, not so much big atmosphere like it’s all about him. He was a very humble man. I never heard him brag about anything, his accomplishments or anything. He’d talk to you about it but it’s like he wanted to talk about something else,” Cook insisted.

Most recently Sayers was suffering from dementia, although he participated in local golf outings as late as 2017.

“He was a good friend and you know, it was tough to watch him slide, but he’s in a better place,” said Stanley Cook.

“We are blessed that Dr. Abel invited us here to be a part of this community, so yes he passed away here last night and he was at peace,” said Ardie Sayers.

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