I recently wrote about my old high school football coach and the fact that he was Knute Rockne’s grandson. A few times over the last couple of years I’ve attempted to search for him on the internet in hopes of finding out what had become of him, but I was never successful. I thought I might slip him a thank you note one day out of the blue. I get notes like that myself now and then from kids I’ve worked with over the years and there is nothing more rewarding. I had no idea I touched many of those kids.
I managed to locate coach this week. I ran across an article in an online newspaper announcing the death of John “Jack” Rockne, Knute Rockne’s last living child. He died of cancer at the age of 82. In the article it listed four of his children who had preceded him in death. My old coach was on that list. When I went back to the internet and plugged his name into the search engine, this time adding the word “obituary” to the end of it, I found him.
He died of cancer back in 2001. He was 52. I never knew until reading the obituary that he had served 2 tours in Vietnam. It’s a good bet that’s where he met up with his fatal disease. I also discovered that he had lost 3 of his brothers at young ages. One of them, Paul Michael Rockne, died in the Edmond, Oklahoma postal shooting back in the 80’s that took the lives of 14 people. I don’t know how the other two died, but they died young.
I felt bad for the father. He lost his dad when he was a mere child. He then buried 4 sons. I can’t help but picture three generations of Rocknes watching Notre Dame’s opener against San Diego State this year. If we have high definition on earth, I can’t imagine the kind of picture heaven’s televisions deliver.
I figure the next time I think about sending someone a thank you note - I’ll just do it.