John Heisman’s Final Resting Place is Rhinelander

By Northwoods News Staff

1882 marks the first burial at the Rhinelander Forest Home Cemetery. According to the cemetery brochure created as a school project by the Northwoods Community Secondary School, “Cemeteries used to be places to have picnics before there were parks, but ever since there have been horror movies, that has changed.”

There are 67 Veterans of the Civil War are buried here, and there are more than 10 graves that are over 100 years old.

Notable people who are buried at the Forest Home Cemetery include Eugene Shepard, who created the Hodag, members of the Brown family, who owned the first paper mill in Rhinelander, and John Heisman, football legend.

Heisman had an illustrious career in sports, both as a player and coach of football, baseball and basketball. He was also a sportswriter and actor. He was dubbed the “pioneer of Southern football” by sportswriter Fuzzy Woodruff as he was instrumental in many changes to the game including legalizing the forward pass.

Heisman was born in 1869 in Cleveland, Ohio. He played football in high school and college, and his first coaching job was in 1892 at Oberlin College. His longest tenure coaching was 16 years at George Tech, where he coached football, basketball and baseball.

He retired from coaching in 1927 and became the first athletic director of the Downtown Athletic Club, which named its college player of the year trophy after him in 1936.

Heisman met his second wife, Edith Maora Cole, a student at Buchtel College, and they married in 1924. When he died of pneumonia in 1936, his wife brought him to Rhinelander, her hometown, and he was buried in Grave D, Lot 11, Block 3.

Today, you can visit the humble grave, and view a display honoring Heisman at the Rhinelander-Oneida County Airport.