Ara Parseghian’s life celebrated during funeral mass, public memorial

Hundreds of people gathered on the University of Notre Dame campus, Sunday, for the funeral and public memorial services for former Notre Dame football coach Ara Parseghian.

During the funeral mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame President, The Reverend John Jenkins noted that Parseghian’s funeral was taking place on the anniversary of the death of one of his grand-children

Rev. Jenkins said it was his hope that the legendary coach was playing, laughing and smiling alongside the three grandchildren and daughter, who preceded him in death.

The mass at the Basilica was followed by a public memorial at the Joyce Center inside Purcell Pavilion where former football coach Lou Holtz was among the speakers. Holtz remembered his friend, saying Parseghian’s influence will live for generations to come because of all the people he influenced.

Former basketball coach Digger Phelps said Parseghian was like a big brother and a mentor to him and, basially, taught him how to coach. Phelps became choked up at the end of his farewell when he spoke to honor Parseghian’s wife, Katie, who he said was by her husband’s side until he died.

County music star Vince Gill performed at both the funeral mass and the public memorial. Gill attended in place of his wife, Christian music star Amy Grant, who has a close friendship with the Parseghian family.

NBC News correspondent Anne Thompson, who’s a Notre Dame alum, emceed the memorial for Parseghian, who died last Wednesday at age 94.

He had recently returned to his home in Granger, Indiana, after undergoing treatment for an infection in his surgically repaired hip.

Parseghian and the Irish won titles in 1966 and 1973, but he abruptly retired after the 1974 season at age 51 with a record of 95-17-4.