Tragic Flight: The 1960 Football Team Plane Crash
In the midst of their sorrow, the campus community searched for additional ways to honor the dead, the injured, and their families. A memorial fund was quickly organized "to accept and administer charitable funds and contributions to aid survivors and the families of students killed in the airplane accident."
Sympathetic wires, cards, and letters flooded campus mail as news of the accident was broadcast around the country. Cal Poly boosters, alumni, parents and other friends of the college sent their condolences and financial contributions to the survivors. Cal Poly Pomona staff made one of the first donations, which was matched by gifts from Bowling Green State University. Other colleges, high schools, grammar schools, service clubs, alumni organizations, and fraternal groups contributed to the fund in the months to come. Other support came from individuals throughout the country who had never heard of Cal Poly before the accident, but were moved to share their condolences and make contributions. Benefit events, many sponsored by campus clubs and generous local businesses, included football and basketball games, golf matches, rodeo events, rummage sales, concerts, dances and movie screenings. John Madden, a former tackle with the Cal Poly Mustangs during the 1957 and 1958 seasons, arranged a benefit match with the Hancock Junior College team he coached at that time. The National Football League contributed $7,500 to the fund.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Warren Dorn, and his friend, entertainer Bob Hope, conceived the idea of a "Mercy Bowl" to add to the Memorial Fund and aid crash survivors and families. The Thanksgiving Day event was organized by Dorn and Ferron Losee, the athletic director at L.A. State. On November 23, 1961, the bowl game matched Fresno State against Bowling Green State at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Southern Pacific scheduled a special train to carry San Luis Obispo residents to the game. Roy Easley, captain of the L.A. State team, sent letters to captains of most of the country’s college teams, urging them to buy a symbolic eleven tickets. The one-time event attracted a crowd of 33,145 and swelled the Memorial Fund. The Memorial Fund Committee, chaired by Dean Clyde Fisher, disbursed $278,000 before it was dissolved in 1971.