‘Loyal Sons’ Book Release Brings Together Players’ Relatives

Author Jim Lefebvre discusses “Loyal Sons” at the book’s release event Sept. 5 at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore.

It wasn’t your typical day-before-the-game gathering on Friday, September 5, at the Hammes Notre Dame Bookstore. For instance, there were several Purdue fans on hand, though the Irish were playing host to San Diego State the next afternoon.

But the focus in the Bookstore’s new Café area was indeed Fighting Irish football.

The event celebrated the release of the new book, “Loyal Sons: The Story of The Four Horsemen and Notre Dame Football’s 1924 Champions” by Jim Lefebvre. “Loyal Sons” is the first book-length treatment of this famous team, the first at Notre Dame to be named consensus national champion.

Among those gathered were relatives of several members of the 1924 Irish, including nearly a full team of family members of guard Noble Kizer, one of the famed “Seven Mules.” Kizer went on to a sterling coaching career at Purdue, where he also served as athletic director. Thus, the West Lafayette area was well-represented at the event.

Some of the first customers to purchase “Loyal Sons” at its release Sept. 5 got their copies signed by the author.

“It’s great that Dad and all his teammates are being honored by the publishing of this book,” said Noble Kizer, Jr. The Kizers are related to two of the Seven Mules. Noble Kizer Sr. and tackle Edgar (Rip) Miller married sisters Phyllis and Esther Templin, of Elkhart, Ind.

In addition, relatives of guard John Weibel, center Joe Harmon and Four Horseman halfback Don Miller were also in attendance.

“This is a treat, to meet relatives of the other players,” said Dr. Joe Harmon, a Notre Dame grad, South Bend physician and grandson of Joe Harmon, who backed up All-American center Adam Walsh and started many games as one of the 1924 team’s “Shock Troops.”

The Miller family members stretched into the fourth generation, represented by great-granddaughter Betsy Reed, a sophomore at St. Mary’s College.

University of Notre Dame president emeritus Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., receives a copy of “Loyal Sons” from author Jim Lefebvre.

Author Jim Lefebvre spoke of his interest in the story and years of research. “It was a great honor to connect with family members of nearly two dozen players from the 1924 team. The common theme was, ‘We’re glad someone is finally telling Dad’s story, or Granddad’s story.’ For many of them, it was, ‘Nobody’s every asked us before.’”

Lefebvre became familiar with one part of the story when he grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and attended the same Catholic grade school that Four Horsemen Jim Crowley had a half-century earlier. “When I found out a few years ago that nobody had written a book on the Four Horsemen and this amazing team, I knew this had to be done.”