- Associated Press - Thursday, June 5, 2014

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - When Mike Seis received an early Father’s Day gift of a roll of sod from Notre Dame Stadium, he knew right away what he’d do with it.

The Wichita, Kansas, resident visited the grave of his mother, Frances Seis. He and his son and daughter laid some of the sod on her grave.

“My mother raised her children to love Notre Dame and I thought she would love having some of Notre Dame with her,” said Seis, 49, who spent the summer of 1999 at Notre Dame as a visiting student in a master’s degree program.

His mother died in 2013.

“She had gone to parochial schools in Kansas City in the 1930s and 1940s, and she always had a crush on Johnny Lujack,” said Seis, referring to the famed Notre Dame and Chicago Bears quarterback and 1947 Heisman Trophy winner.

The last time his mom opened her eyes before she died, Seis told the South Bend Tribune (http://bit.ly/1pTznZb ), he played the music from the “Notre Dame Victory March” for her on his cellphone.

Seis is among the Fighting Irish fans who recently purchased or received as gifts Notre Dame Stadium sod.

The university sold rolls of turf that were removed from the football field in May in preparation for installation of synthetic FieldTurf. The 5-by-2-foot rolls were sold online for $150 (including two-day shipping) or $100 during a final day “cash and carry” sale for local residents. Each purchaser also received a certificate of authenticity.

Notre Dame is not releasing details about how many rolls of sod were sold, university spokesman Dennis Brown said. Proceeds from the sale are going toward the cost of installing the artificial turf.

Some fans shared with The Tribune photos and stories about what they did with their sod.

Joe Bowen, the “Voice of the Toronto Maple Leafs,” now has a roll of the ND Stadium sod planted in his backyard in Toronto. The sod was a gift from his four sons.

“We put rocks around it and spray-painted them blue and gold,” said Bowen, 63, a well-known Canadian sportscaster.

He’s called Maple Leafs hockey games since 1982, but he’s also a big Fighting Irish fan. “My dad was a fan. You could say I’m a subway alumnus,” Bowen said in a telephone interview.

Bowen started regularly going to Fighting Irish football games while a friend, Canadian Mike Wadsworth, was Notre Dame’s athletic director in the late 1990s. (Wadsworth died in 2004.)

Now Bowen, his sons and other family members have a tradition of renting a motor home each year and coming to South Bend for a home football game.

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