Memorial Services Planned for 46th Anniversary Commemoration of 1977 UE Plane Crash


Memorial Services Planned for 46th Anniversary Commemoration of 1977 UE Plane Crash

DECEMBER 7, 2023


On the cold and drizzly night of December 13, 1977, a chartered DC-3 crashed slightly after takeoff from Evansville’s Dress Regional Airport. Members of the UE community soon learned that this plane included men’s basketball Coach Bobby Watson, 14 players, 11 team friends, and a plane crew of 5. For those who remember the crash, it’s known as “the night it rained tears.”

This event was a shocking loss to the UE community. At a memorial service held a few days later, Dr. Philip Ott, then-professor of philosophy and religion, said “we do not choose to live. We do not choose to die. Life is a gift.”

Former UE President Wallace Graves reminded the community, “Out of the agony of this hour we will rise.”

While this tragedy will always be remembered, the University of Evansville came together in strength and unity to move forward and carry on as a tribute to those who were lost.

To commemorate the 46th anniversary and remember these lives, UE has planned a memorial on Wednesday, December 13, that is open to the campus community and public. The service will be held at noon at Memorial Plaza on campus, located directly behind Olmsted Hall. The service will include an invocation, special message, the reading of all 29 names, and a moment of silence. 46 years later, we remember each life that was taken much too early.

The University of Evansville is a private, comprehensive university located in the southwestern region of Indiana. Established in 1854, UE is recognized across the globe for its rich tradition of innovative, academic excellence and vibrant campus community of changemakers.

FOOTNOTE: Home of the Purple Aces, UE offers over 75 majors, 17 Division I sports, and a unique study abroad experience at Harlaxton, the University’s very own Victorian manor located in the countryside of England. For more information, please visit