John M. Whitmer

1944 - 2021

Niles, MI


  John M. Whitmer, 77, of Niles, Michigan passed away peacefully on the afternoon of December 5th at Brookdale of South Bend, with his loving wife by his side.

  John was born in Walkerton, Indiana to John A. and Charlotte J. (Ake) Whitmer, Jr. on June 18, 1944. After graduating high school, he went on to get his Masters from Western Michigan University. John was the Head Trainer at the University of Notre Dame for many years. He spent most of his time at Notre Dame with...

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23421 State Road 23, South Bend, IN

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Steve Hill

December 22, 2021 9:16 AM


I am so sorry for your loss. A flood of memories came back after hearing of Big John's passing. Of course, there was a gruff side, but I remember thinking after meeting you that that couldn't be the real John. He loved you like crazy and it was obvious by the way he softened whenever you were present. 

John took me in as a student athletic trainer when I transferred to ND as a sophomore. The financial aid he arranged made Notre Dame possible for me. Anything that I've achieved professionally finds its genesis in his training room.  You too were instrumental in my successes and Notre Dame and beyond. You gave me many opportunities to work for extra cash selling merch at concerts, building the ice rink when the Ice Capades were in town, or fire watch for the other events you managed.  

Amy, I wish you peace this holiday season. You brought peace to John's life and now he's in eternal peace.

You are in my thoughts and prayers,

Steve Hill '85 ND

John Gaski

December 21, 2021 2:03 PM

Dear Amy, 

I could not help noticing, and feeling, the special vibe at John's wake.  Eddie Hums mentioned the same thing.  It must have been due to the unique group of people there, and in turn the type found in John's personal orbit and yours.  That beautiful atmosphere was a further tribute to you and Big John.  

Requiescat in pace, John.  Hang in there and take care, Amy.  


John Gaski 

Frank Murtha

December 17, 2021 8:02 PM

We never met but your husband was a great man..friend and someone I loved to visit with. I'm an ND grad who has represented many Notre Dame athletes over the years in their pro career. John and I would talk about a lot of things when I got over to campus and his judgement on the future success of guys athletically was usually right on. "Big John" as I and many called him was always available and my son has fond memories of John when he was with me on a visit. We last spoke a few years ago when he was recovering from an infextion I think from a knee replacement. I now regret not reaching our until I heard of his passing. I'm sure you've heard from many but he touched a lot of lives. God bless him and all of you

Frank Murtha '66 ND 

Steve Srmek

December 16, 2021 7:58 AM

Sorry Amy for your loss.  I worked for Whit for many years at the Rockne Memorial Building at ND. John was my big Brother. I enjoyed our daily BS sessions and you always got some Whitmer wisdom weather you wanted it or not. I will never forget the times we spent at his lake cottage sharing a glass of Old Bushmills. Here is to you my friend ...........

Rich Bontrager

December 12, 2021 5:32 PM

I was an athletic trainer under John at ND during the early 80's. He was a pleasure to work for. Every time I watch a hockey game, I think of him telling me "If you don't see the puck, duck!". So sorry to hear of his passing. Your family is in my prayers, sir. 

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