TSGS Cruiser Blog

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Death of Purdue Football Player From Evansville"

Poughkeepsie Star-Enterprise - September 17, 1936

Second Purdue Grid Star Dies: Tom McGannon Victim of Shower Room Blast

Lafayette, Ind. (AP) - Tom McGannon, star Purdue University halfback from Evansville, Ind., died this morning from burns received in a shower room explosion of gasoline fumes after practice last Saturday. Two blood transfusions were given McGannon in an effort to save his life.

McGannon, 20 year-old junior, was the second mainstay of this year's Purdue team to succumb to burns suffered in the fire, caused when a coal stove ignited gasoline fumes. Carl E. Dahlbec, of Lyndonville, Vt., veteran guard, died Sunday. Still another of the stars from whom Coach Noble Kizer had expected to be the nucleus of his 1936 gridiron machine is in serious condition. Lowell Decker of Reading, Mich, fullback, suffered sever burns and his recover was not certain. Of the six players burned, Pat Malaska of Crawfordsville had improved while Jim Maloney of Chicago was out of danger. John Drake of Chicago has reported back to football practice. The gasoline had been used to remove adhesive tape from the players.

McGannon was born in Evansville, Nov. 20, 1915, the son of Mr. and Mrs. L.G. McGannon, who were at his bedside as were three brothers, one sister, and his sweetheart, Grace Hellrich of Evansville. McGannon was a pole vaulter on the track team and a member of the Phi Kappa Fraternity. Two fraternity brothers gave their blood in the transfusions which it had been hoped would save McGannon's life.

To see pictures of McGannon on his football team, in the 1936 Purdue Yearbook, and information from the Board of Trustee's report of the accident, search the Purdue University Library Archives at http://is.gd/1iNGV.

- Submitted by Taneya Koonce

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