Training Camp 1964 A Chicago Bears Tragedy

For the thirty years between 1944 and 1974 the Chicago Bears held their annual training camp at tiny St. Joseph's College in the small town of Rensselaer, Indiana. In 1964, the start of camp felt markedly different.

This was mostly due to the Bears becoming World Champions in 1963. It was the team's first championship since 1946 and many football experts were expecting a Chicago repeat.

On the night of July 27th however, everything changed. After that days practice many of the Bears players had a get together at the Curtis Creek Country Club just west of Rensselaer. In fact it was decided that Willie Galimore and Bo Farrington would bring the pizza in Willie's brand new convertible Volkswagon "Beetle".

As the evening wore on the party began to break up due to the players having a ten o'clock curfew. A curfew that was strictly enforced by head coach George Halas. Galimore and Farrington were among the last to leave the premises and may have been in a rush to get back to the dorms before the ten o'clock bed check.

The road that runs from Curtis Creek Country Club to the town of Rensselaer is called Bunkum road. It is very straight from the golf course almost all the way to town. With the exception of a sharp turn to the left just before you get to the Iroquois River on the west edge of town.

There is normally a sign directly beside the road warning of said turn but on that night the sign wasn't there. It had apparently been knocked over by a mowing crew and not righted. That simple mistake could have contributed to what happened.

It was stated in the police report that  Galimore may have been speeding in order for him and Farrington to make it back to St. Joseph's before curfew. He was definitely going too fast to make that turn. Willie was ejected from the car and Farrington suffered a broken neck. Both men died at the scene.

The shock waves that one moment in time sent through the family that was the Chicago Bears lasted the entire season. The Bears never recovered and finished 1964 with an almost inexplicable record of 5-9.

While neither of the two could be considered a superstar at the time of their deaths, they were still very good players and if not for injuries, the 29 year old Galimore would definitely have reached elite status. Farrington was only 28 years old and to add to the tragedy his wife Vivian, upon hearing the news, suffered a miscarriage of their first child.

George Halas called the day following the accident "the saddest day in Bears history." In fact, while the two men may not have been all-pros on the field at the time of their passing, they were among the most beloved players in the locker room.

To this day, former teammates speak of them with nothing but respect and praise. While they would prefer to forget the tragedy, they will never forget Willie "The Wisp" Galimore and John "Bo" Farrington.

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