Bill Glassford, 102, Dies; America’s Oldest Living Pro
J William (Bill) Glassford:
Born: March 8, 1914 in Lancaster, Ohio
Died: September 19, 2016 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Randy York’s N-Sider
Official Blog of the Huskers
Former Nebraska Head Football Coach William “Bill” Glassford, America’s oldest living professional football player, died Monday (September 19, 2016) at age 102 in Phoenix, Ariz. Gary Glassford, his only surviving son, confirmed the death of his father.
Nebraska Director of Athletics Shawn Eichorst named Glassford, the Huskers’ head football coach from 1949 to 1955, the recipient of an honorary NU varsity letter (above) a year ago.
Glassford thanked Eichorst for creating a “special day in my life” when Development Officer Mike Dobbs presented him a plaque that was delivered personally to his home in Phoenix.
“It’s a very special honor that I am very proud to display,” said Glassford, who began his college coaching career with a 19-5-1 record at the University of New Hampshire from 1946 to ‘48.
During his college playing days, Glassford was an All-American and captain for a University of Pittsburgh team that defeated Washington in the 1937 Rose Bowl.
Glassford Led Huskers to No. 17 National Ranking in 1950, Orange Bowl in 1954
Glassford (pictured above) led the 1950 Huskers to a No. 17 final national rating, which was Nebraska’s first top 20 ranking since the 1941 Rose Bowl team.
The highlight of Glassford’s seven-year stint as the Huskers’ head coach was leading Nebraska to its first of 17 Orange Bowl appearances in 1954.
Glassford coached three All-Americans at Nebraska – Tom Novak (center, 1949), Bobby Reynolds (halfback, 1950) and Jerry Minnick (tackle, 1952). In 1951, Glassford also coached the first night game in Nebraska football history against Miami in Florida.
In 2002, Glassford was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame. In his seven years at Nebraska (1949 to 1955), he compiled a 31-35-3 record.
Glassford retired after the 1955 season and went into private business in Arizona.
Omaha World-Herald Photo
Glassford Held Husker Memories Close to Heart, Revered Nebraska Fight Song
“What is really important to me are the people of Nebraska – the players that I had the opportunity to work with and the University coaches and staff. I hold those memories close to my heart," Glassford (pictured above in red) said last year after his 101st birthday.
Last October, in a heartfelt thank you to Nebraska, Glassford wrote this message: “With the twilight of my life approaching, the sounds of the crowd, the singing of the Cornhusker Fight Song, the sights of the stadium with freshly mowed grass and lined field, and the Huskers rushing onto the field for another hard-fought struggle still gives me the adrenalin rush. To you, the people of Nebraska, and to the N-Club, thank you…Respectfully, Bill Glassford.”
Playing for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1937, Glassford was the oldest living professional football player in America. His stint with the Bengals was in the American Football League II.
Before Glassford’s arrival, Nebraska had six head football coaches in the previous nine years.
Eichorst: Glassford's Tenure at Nebraska Helped Develop Legendary Fan Base
“The momentum created from the teams Bill coached eventually helped develop the fan base that sold out 350 straight Nebraska home football games since 1962,” Eichorst said. "Bill made a positive impact on the lives of countless Husker student-athletes, and we mourn his passing.”
Bill Glassford served in the United States Navy during World War II. He attended the University of Pittsburgh where he played football and graduated in 1936.
Gary Glassford said funeral services for his father are pending.
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