Gardner Dow

American college football player

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Gardner Dow
Gardner Dow.png
Gardner Dow in 1918
Connecticut Aggies
Personal information
Born:(1898-03-15)March 15, 1898
New Haven, Connecticut, US
Died:September 27, 1919(1919-09-27) (aged 21)
Durham, New Hampshire, US
Career history
CollegeConnecticut Agricultural College (1919)
High schoolNew Haven High School

Gardner Dow (March 15, 1898[1] – September 27, 1919) was an American college football player for the Connecticut Aggies.[2] He died of traumatic brain injury sustained in a game against the University of New Hampshire.[3] Connecticut Agricultural College (now the University of Connecticut) named its athletic field in his honor. The Gardner Dow Field served as the football team's home pitch for decades.[4]


Dow was born in New Haven, Connecticut, to parents Edwin C. Dow and Grace (French) Dow. His father was a bookkeeper; his mother was a homemaker. Dow was the youngest of three brothers. William F. and Arthur K. were respectively 15 and 12 years older than he.[5]

Dow studied and played football at New Haven High School. Soon after receiving with his high school diploma, he joined the Class of 1921 at Connecticut Agricultural College in Storrs in the fall of 1917. He enrolled in the four-year agricultural sciences program. As a freshman, Dow participated in intramural sports and distinguished himself in the one freshmen-versus-sophomores football game of the season.[6]

In the summer of 1918, Dow enlisted in the United States Navy Reserve and was stationed at the Harvard Radio School in Cambridge until the end of December. As World War I had ended in November, the Navy no longer required his service. Dow received an honorable discharge and returned to Storrs to resume his studies. In the spring of 1919, he helped manage the college basketball team.[6]

Dow capped the school year on May 29 by attending the junior class prom with Miss Francis Bristol of Ansonia.[7]


Dow made the Connecticut Aggies football varsity team in the fall of 1919. The season opener was an away game against New Hampshire State College (the future New Hampshire Wildcats) on Saturday, September 27, 1919. Dow had injured his ankle and was not expected to play, but he ended up traveling to Durham with his teammates and playing through his injury.[4] The game took place in the afternoon, and New Hampshire took an early lead. Partway through the game's third quarter, tragedy struck. New Hampshire's right halfback, Earl Farmer, took possession and charged down the field. Connecticut Aggies right defensive end Eddie Voorhees tripped him, but Farmer regained his feet and continued down the field. Dow launched a high flying tackle, and both players went down with a crash. Farmer was uninjured, but Dow had been knocked unconscious when his head struck Farmer's knee. Witnesses described the blow as "entirely accidental."[2][3][8]

Dow lay unconscious on the field while a physician was summoned. Dr. A. E. Grant had him moved from the field to the athletic director's office. After the game, Dow was moved again, this time to the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house. He exhibited no visible signs of injury, and initially it was thought that he had been kneed in the solar plexis until the doctor eventually noticed a bump on his head. An ambulance was called to take him to Dover Hospital. Before the ambulance arrived, Dow died at 8 p.m. without regaining consciousness. His body was transported first to the hospital and then to Dow's family home in New Haven, where he was interred at Evergreen Cemetery on October 1.[3][6] Dow's was the only death of the 1919 U.S. college football season.[9]

Dow's death was attributed to traumatic brain injury, which contemporary accounts described as "concussion of the brain."[9] Because his injury was not adjudged serious at first, the game had continued in Dow's absence. New Hampshire defeated Connecticut 13–0. The Aggies team voted to continue the season and finished 2–6, winning their final two games with Boston University and Rhode Island. It was the football team's only season under coach Roy J. Guyer, who went on to serve as basketball coach from 1922 to 1923 and as athletics director from 1919 to 1936.[10][2]

Connecticut Agricultural College canceled all "light amusements" for three days following Dow's death.[4] On the afternoon of October 1, 1919, at the same time Dow's funeral was taking place in New Haven, the college canceled classes, closed offices, and gathered the entire college community into the Willis Nichols Hawley Armory in Storrs. Fifteen minutes of silence were followed by a eulogy from President Charles L. Beach along with remarks from student leaders.[3] On October 6, the faculty adopted a resolution eulogizing Dow and expressing sympathy to his family.[11]

Dow's fellow students dedicated to him the 1919–1920 volume of The Nutmeg yearbook.[6] Six members of his fraternity acted as pallbearers at the funeral in New Haven.[12]

Connecticut Agricultural College's athletic association posthumously granted Dow a varsity jersey, which they sent to his family.[13]


Gardner Dow Field in 1920

On October 6, Connecticut Agricultural College's athletic association named the college's athletic field the Gardner Dow Field.[14][15] The field extended from the rear of Hawley Armory westward to what is now Hillside Road. The Gardner Dow Field served as the football team's home pitch until Memorial Stadium opened in 1953. It served as the home court for the college's baseball, soccer, field hockey, and track teams. It hosted tennis courts and other facilities, while archery matches, agricultural shows and fairs, and various student activities were held there. By the 1970s, the field had largely ceased to exist due to new construction, including the Homer Babbidge Library, the School of Business, and the Information Technology Engineering buildings.[16]

A commemorative plaque was placed at the Gardner Dow Field. It was moved to an exterior wall of Hawley Armory in the 1950s, where it remains.[16]


  1. ^ "United States, Veterans Administration Master Index, 1917–1940," database, FamilySearch ( : October 22, 2019), Gardner Dow.
  2. ^ a b c Anthony, Mike (March 29, 2014). "Football Death Of Gardner Dow Silenced UConn Campus In 1919". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved March 9, 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ a b c d "Gardner Dow Loses Life in New Hampshire Game". The Connecticut Campus. Vol. 6, no. 3. Storrs, Connecticut: University of Connecticut. October 3, 1919. hdl:11134/20002:860192574. Retrieved March 8, 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b c Smith, Laura (September 26, 2019). "The Death of Gardner Dow". Archives and Special Collections Blog. University of Connecticut. Retrieved March 10, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed March 10, 2021), Gardner Dow in household of Grace F Dow, New Haven Ward 10, New Haven, Connecticut, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 426, sheet 3A, family 65, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 140; FHL microfilm 1,374,153.
  6. ^ a b c d Dow, Everett D., ed. (1920). "Gardner Dow". The Nutmeg 1919–1920 (Yearbook). The Junior Class of Connecticut Agricultural College: 10 – via Connecticut Digital Archive.
  7. ^ "Brilliant Junior "Prom" at Storrs: First Affair of Class Since Before War is Great Success". The Hartford Courant. May 30, 1919.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "Tackle Plunge at Durham, N H, Fatal – Gardner Dow, Injured, Dies Later in Hospital – New Hampshire State's Victory Is Marred by Accident". The Boston Globe. September 28, 1919. p. 19. Retrieved March 10, 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ a b "Five Deaths From Football; Decrease Due to Open Game". The New York Tribune. November 30, 1919. p. 20. Retrieved March 12, 2021 – via{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ Who's Who in American Sports. Washington, D.C.: National Biographical Society. 1928. p. 321.
  11. ^ "Faculty Adopt Resolutions on Dow". The Connecticut Campus. Vol. 6, no. 4. October 10, 1919. hdl:11134/20002:860192575. Retrieved March 10, 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ "Eta Lambda Sigmaa". The Connecticut Campus. January 10, 1919. hdl:11134/20002:860192575. Retrieved March 10, 2021.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "Aggie Men Receive Football Letters: Honorary Letter Given Parents Gardner Daw". The Hartford Courant. December 6, 1919. p. 13.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ "Gardner Dow Field". The Connecticut Campus. October 10, 1919. p. 4. hdl:11134/20002:860192575. Retrieved March 10, 2021 – via Connecticut Digital Archive.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ "State College to Name Athletic Field After Gardiner Dow Who Was Killed in Football Game". The Connecticut Campus. October 10, 1919. p. 12.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. ^ a b Roy, Mark J. (September 27, 2004). "Football Player Gardner Dow Remembered, 85 Years Later". UConn Advance. Retrieved March 11, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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