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 Jay Berwanger

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Jay Berwanger

  • Birth 19 Mar 1914 Dubuque, Dubuque County, Iowa, USA
  • Death 26 Jun 2002 Oak Brook, DuPage County, Illinois, USA
  • Burial Oak Brook, DuPage County, Illinois, USA
  • Plot Section G9
  • Memorial ID 6612068

University of Chicago All-American football player. He was the first recipient of the Heisman Trophy, first player chosen during the first National Football League draft, and the only Heisman recipient to ever tackle a future president of the United States. Gerald Ford still has a scar to prove it. He was born in Dubuque, Iowa, where in high school he excelled at wrestling and track, as well as football. He enrolled at the University of Chicago after graduation due mainly to a desire for an excellent business education. Jay Berwanger joining the football team was every football's coach's dream. He called plays, ran, passed, punted, blocked, tackled, kicked off, kicked extra points, and returned punts and kickoffs. He was excellent playing Halfback because of his speed having been clocked at 10 seconds during the 100-yd dash. Although drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles and traded to the Chicago Bears, he never played professional ball due to an inability to sign a contract with George Halas who refused to pay the amount wanted. He became the coach at the University of Chicago from 1936 through 1939 while also being a part-time sportswriter for the Chicago Daily News. Jay enlisted in the Navy Air Force during World War II as an officer spending most of the duration teaching instrument flying. The postwar found him working as a foam-rubber salesman and eventually founded his own company, Jay Berwanger, Inc., which manufactures plastic and sponge-rubber strips for car doors, trunks and farm machinery. The company flourishes today in Chicago. Upon retirement, Jay and his wife divided their time between residences in Oak Brook, Illinois and Manzanillo, Mexico. A heavy smoker all his life, he died of lung cancer at his residence in Oak Brook. Jay Berwanger played himself in the 1936 movie, "The Big Game. " In 1954 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and in 1989 was included on Sports Illustrated's 25-year anniversary All-America team.

Bio by: Donald Greyfield


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Cinnamonntoast4
  • Added: 17 Jul 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6612068
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Jay Berwanger (19 Mar 1914–26 Jun 2002), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6612068, citing Bronswood Cemetery, Oak Brook, DuPage County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .