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Sunday, July 30, 2023
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Monday, July 31, 2023
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Monday, July 31, 2023
John C. “Johnny” Lujack, 98, of Naples, Florida, formerly of Bettendorf, Iowa and Indian Wells, California died Tuesday, July 25, 2023 in Naples, Florida.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday, July 31, 2023 at 10:00 a.m. at St. John Vianney Catholic Church 4097-18th Street, Bettendorf, Iowa. The Mass will be livestreamed by visiting http://sjvbett.org/ Visitation will be held Sunday, July 30, 2023 from 1:00-5:00 p.m. at Halligan-McCabe-DeVries Funeral Home 614 North Main Street, Davenport, Iowa.
Born in Connellsville, Pennsylvania in 1925, Johnny Lujack is remembered as a legendary athlete, and even more so, a legendary man. He was one of the faces of Notre Dame’s golden age, the second of three Irish players to win the Heisman Trophy in the 1940s and the quarterback of three national championship teams. He lived larger than life and died peacefully surrounded by family.
Johnny is considered one of the greatest Notre Dame athletes of all time. He was a two-time unanimous All-American who won the Heisman in 1947 and led the Irish to national titles in 1943, 1946 and 1947. He also lettered in baseball, basketball and track.
He was The Associated Press athlete of the year in 1947, when he was a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears. Johnny finished third in Heisman voting in 1946 before he won the award as the college game’s outstanding player the next year. He took his first-ever flight to New York City to receive the award.
Johnny played four seasons for the Chicago Bears, leading the team in scoring each year before retiring at age 26. He threw for 468 yards in a single game which still holds as a record. He later owned Lujack Schierbrock Chevrolet (later known by a variety of names) a car dealership in Davenport, Iowa.
In addition to being a legendary athlete, Johnny has an equally legendary list of adoring friends and family members who brought joy to his life. His wife of 74 years had to know that sports were in her future. Their first date consisted of a double-header basketball and hockey game with free tickets and hotdogs. Their love affair was inspiring, matched only by his beloved Patricia’s patience with his stories and jokes. Johnny’s family is comforted knowing they are reunited in Heaven.
Johnny maintained strong ties to his alma mater. Though he spent much of his post-football life in Iowa, California and Florida, it was not uncommon for him to show up in South Bend for games and other functions. Dinner at Pat’s Pub, Friday night Pep Rallys, pre-game prayers at the Grotto and Sunday mass provided the backdrop of countless family memories. Taking their love of Notre Dame to Ireland, Johnny’s family journeyed to Dublin in 2012 for a Notre Dame game where Johnny may have been the happiest his family has ever seen him.
When he lived in Indian Wells, California, Notre Dame’s glee club flew out to sing for him on his 90th birthday, a moment that moved Patricia and Johnny, to tears.
Johnny was an avid golfer who recorded eight holes-in-one and continued to ride around courses on his cart long after he quit playing; however, players (including his own grandchildren) needed a strong game to keep his attention. One of his more famous lines, included “I have seen better swings on a condemned playground.” That is also how he introduced former President Bush (41) at a Heisman Award Dinner. He also liked to tell people about the time he spilled a milkshake on his most famous golf partner — former President Gerald Ford.
If you were lucky enough to cross paths with him, he likely cracked a joke or shared a laminated photo of his “pride and joy.” And yes, we are talking about the S.C. Johnson company cleaning products. He lived larger than life, with a megawatt smile, sparkle in his eye and zest for life, sports, family and his faith.
Special thanks to all those on Johnny’s care team at The Glenview in Naples, Angie Trujillo, Mike Leep, Beth Hunter, Todd Hopkins, Joyce Carmen, Deanna Gold, Peter Murphy and countless others.
Johnny is survived by his daughter Mary Lujack of Bettendorf, Iowa, his son Jeff (Hilary) Lujack of Cupertino, California; his 5 grandchildren: Amy (Dan) Schiller, Sarah (Tait) Johnson, Grant (Vania) Pohlmann, Kevin and Dana Lujack; 8 great-grandchildren: Charley, Josie and Julia Flanagan, Gracie and Drew Johnson, Louie (born on Johnny’s birthday and named after him), Oliver and Elliott Pohlmann. He is reunited in heaven with countless friends, family and teammates including best friend Crieghton Miller, his daughter, Carol and his wife, Patricia.
Johnny was preceded in death by his parents Alice and John Lujack and five siblings.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Johnny Lujack Scholarship at the University of Notre Dame, Department of Development, 1100 Grace Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556.