Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: Dec. 30, 2018

Illini Legends, Lists and Lore: Dec. 30, 2018

Leonard "Tank" Charpier, a graduate of Curtis High School in Chicago, was an all-conference guard and fullback in each of the two respective seasons he lettered at Illinois (1916 & '17) for Coach Bob Zuppke.

After one season of playing for the Racine Cardinals (1920), he studied medicine and eventually became a surgeon at Little Company of Mary Hospital in Chicago's south suburbs.

Charpier experimented in the 1930s with using blood from recently-deceased cadavers for transfusions. His work didn't come to light until 13 years after Charpier's death in 1960. Former assistant Donald Farmer, who by then was director of the Beverly Blood Center in Chicago, published an article about Charpier's work in the Bulletin of the American Association of Blood Banks.

Farmer's revelations came as a shock to two pathologists working at the time at Pontiac General Hospital near Detroit.

They had just begun exploring the use of cadaver blood. One of these latter day medical mavericks was Jack Kevorkian, the same man who would later earn the nickname "Dr. Death" for his outspoken campaign to give terminally ill patients the right to die with the assistance of a medical professional.

Charpier died in 1947 at the age of 48.

Illini Birthdays:

Today: Kirk Johnson, football (42)

Monday: Mark Butkus, football (57)

Tuesday: Casey Fletcher, baseball (26)

Wednesday: Greg McMahon, football coach (58)

Thursday: Walter Graham, football (63)

Friday: Scott Meents, basketball (54)

Saturday: Hardy Nickerson, Jr., football (24)

By Mike Pearson, author of Illini Legends, Lists & Lore (Third Edition now available in stores). Get more Illini birthdays, trivia and historical tidbits daily on Twitter@B1GLLL. His website is