Why Regis Philbin’s Funeral and Burial Will Happen on the Notre Dame Campus

Beloved TV personality Regis Philbin died on July 24. The host of Live! with Regis and Kelly and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was 88.

“We are deeply saddened to share that our beloved Regis Philbin passed away last night of natural causes, one month shy of his 89th birthday,” his family said in a statement.

Regis Philbin’s funeral will happen at the University of Notre Dame 

Regis Philbin
Regis Philbin | Al Pereira/Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives

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Philbin will be laid to rest at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. The service will be held at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and he will be buried at the Cedar Grove Cemetery, both on the university’s campus, the South Bend Tribune reported. A date for the funeral has not yet been announced. 

Before his death, Philbin had expressed a desire to return to his alma mater after he died. 

“I love Notre Dame. I want my ashes scattered there,” he told Esquire in 2005. 

Philbin was a Notre Dame alum 

Regis Philbin on the Notre Dame campus
Talk show host Regis Philbin standing by sign Zahm Hall, his residence when he attended Notre Dame | John Zich/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

The Bronx-born Philbin had lifelong ties to Notre Dame. The talk show host graduated from the university in 1953 with a degree in sociology. He frequently returned to the campus for events and football games. Philbin also supported the school financially, donating $2.75 million in 2001 to establish a new theater on campus. 

“Regis regaled millions on air through the years, oftentimes sharing a passionate love for his alma mater with viewers,” said the university’s president Rev. John I. Jenkins, in a statement. “He will be remembered at Notre Dame for his unfailing support for the university and its mission, including the Philbin Studio Theater in our performing arts center. He likewise was generous with his time and talent in support of South Bend’s Center for the Homeless and other worthy causes. 

“Our prayers are with his wife, Joy, and their daughters and Notre Dame alumnae Joanna and J.J.,” Jenkins added. Philbin also had two children from an earlier marriage, Danny, who died in 2014, and Amy. 

Philbin compared Notre Dame to heaven 

Philbin’s love for Notre Dame began in childhood, when he was a fan of the university’s famous football team. Later, he arrived on campus as a student, where his experience at the school changed his life. Long after he graduated, he didn’t hesitate to sing Notre Dame’s praises whenever he could. 

“It’s the closest experience you will ever have to being in heaven,” he said at an event at the university in 2012. “That may sound like I was exaggerating. I wasn’t. I really believe it!” 

On July 27, Philbin’s family said they were “overwhelmed by the outpouring of love we’ve received” following his death, Deadline reported. They asked those who wished to honor his memory to make a donation to Food Bank for New York City “to help people in need in his beloved New York, especially his home borough of The Bronx.”

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