May 21, 1923 – August 2, 2017
Ara Parseghian, former Notre Dame football coach, died on August 2nd at his home in Granger. He was born May 21, 1923 in Akron, Ohio. He was the son of an Armenian father and a French mother, both immigrants.
In 1948 in Greenfield, OH, Ara married Kathleen Davis, who survives. They had three children: Karan (James) Burke, who preceded him in death, Kristan (James) Humbert of Granger and Michael (Cindy) Tucson, AZ.
From an early age, he was consumed with sports. He played football, basketball, baseball and golf. He enrolled at the University of Akron, but soon quit to join the U.S. Navy for two years. He was a company commander at Great Lakes and played football for Paul Brown on the Great Lakes team. After the war, he finished his college career at Miami University in Ohio, where he lettered in three sports. He went on to play halfback for the Cleveland Browns in 1948 and 1949. His playing career was cut short by a hip injury and he took the job as freshman coach at his Alma Mater. He was undefeated in that year and earned the respect to be named head coach at Miami, when Woody Hayes left to coach at Ohio State. In 1956, he was hired as head coach at Northwestern University. His success there caught the attention of Notre Dame. He was hired in 1964 and proceeded to win two national championships in eleven seasons, a period often referred to as the “Era of Ara.”
Ara quit coaching in 1974 and began a broadcasting career of college games for ABC and CBS.
He dedicated himself to medical causes- first was for Multiple Sclerosis after Karen was diagnosed with the disease. Later when three grandchildren were diagnosed with Niemann-Pick Type C, he was involved with the founding of the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation. Michael, Marcia and Christa were lost to that disease in the period of 1997 to 2005, but the research goes on.
He is also survived by six remaining grandchildren, Taran Conyers, Jamie (Adam Miller) Humbert, Kaly (Brian) Thornburg, James (Lori) Burke, Michael Burke, and Ara (Cicily) Parseghian; and ten great-grandchildren.
Thanks to Bill Conyers, the father of our twin grandchildren, who gives special help and to our doctor friends have who have held him in their hearts: Scott Thomas, Douglas David, Fred Ferlic and Roman Mitros.
In lieu of flowers, please send memorial contributions to the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, Attn: Sean Kassen, 215 Jordan Hall of Science, Notre Dame, IN 46556, or to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 733 Third Ave., New York, NY 10017
A Mass for the Feast of the Transfiguration and Celebration of the Life of legendary coach Ara Parseghian will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 6) at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame. The University’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., will preside. A memorial celebration will follow the Mass at 3:30 p.m. Sunday in Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. Family members and former players and colleagues will speak. The public is invited to both the Mass and memorial.
In lieu of flowers, please send memorial contributions to the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Foundation, Attn: Sean Kassen, 215 Jordan Hall of Science, Notre Dame, IN 46556, or to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 733 Third Ave., New York, NY 10017.