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The Grave of Ed Healey

by Randy Snow

Original to www.theworldoffootball.com, Monday, September 4, 2023


In Southwest Lower Michigan, you will find the final resting place of a Pro Football Hall of Famer. I had a little trouble finding the grave at first, but with the help of a stranger, the grave was located. This is Gridiron Grave visit #53.

Ed Healey was born on December 28, 1894 in Indian Orchard, MA. He played three seasons of college football at Dartmouth in the Ivy League. In 1920, he signed with the Rock Island Independents in the newly formed American Professional Football Association, which is the National Football League of today. He played tackle and guard for Rock Island from 1920-1922.

His last game with Rock Island in 1922 was against the Chicago Bears in Chicago. It was the second meeting of the season for the two teams. Bears head coach and player at the time, George Halas, was so impressed with Healey’s play on the field that he bought his contract from the Independents for $100, in lieu of gate receipts which were owed to the Bears from their previous game. He is considered to be the first player in NFL History to be purchased by one team from another. 

Healey finished the 1922 season playing in the final three games for the Bears. George Halas referred to him as "the most versatile tackle in history."

In 1924, Healey was involved in a highly unusual play for the Bear. He ran more than 30 yards to tackle his own teammate who had run the wrong way after intercepting a pass. He tackled him just short of the goal line.

During his time with the Bears, Healey participated in the famous barnstorming tour that took place after the team signed college star Red Grange in 1925. Healey continued to play for the Bears through 1927.

After eight seasons in the NFL, Healey retired, settled in Niles, Michigan and became a farmer. He died on December 8, 1978 in South Bend, IN.

Ed Healey was inducted into the Pro football Hall of Fame in 1964. His presenter at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony was none other than Harry Stuhldreher, the quarterback of the legendary Four Horsemen of Notre Dame in 1925.   

Finding the Grave

Ed Healey is buried in the Calvary Cemetery in Niles, Michigan. The address is 700 West Chicago Road, Niles 49120. There are two entrances. Use the one that says Calvary Cemetery at the entrance. Once in the cemetery, you will see a big circle drive that goes around a white church-like building. Take the road around it to the left. About a quarter of the way around the building you will see a road the goes straight ahead. Take it. There is a white storage building at the end of the road. Healey’s grave will be on your left right along the road near the end.

I had some trouble finding Healey’s grave in the cemetery. But thanks to an elderly gentleman named Bob, who just happened to be at the cemetery that day visiting his wife’s grave, he found the grave for me. It turned out that it was located not too far from his wife’s grave. Then Bob told me that he knew Ed Healey when he was a kid and even worked for him on his farm.

Was it pure luck or divine intervention that Bob was there to help me that day? Who knows! Either way, I was happy to have met Bob and hear him tell stories of his summers working on the Healey Farm! Thank you, Bob! It was a pleasure meeting you!


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