Dick Kazmaier ’52, the former star halfback and Princeton’s lone Heisman Trophy winner, died Aug. 1 in Boston. He was 82.
Kazmaier, a versatile runner and passer from Maumee, Ohio, mastered coach Charlie Caldwell ’25’s single-wing offense and led the Tigers to consecutive undefeated seasons in 1950 and ’51, winning three of college football’s top individual awards — the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, and Walter Camp Trophy — in his senior year.
He was drafted by the Chicago Bears but bypassed the NFL to pursue an M.B.A. at Harvard and a distinguished career in business. He later chaired the President’s Council on Physical Fitness under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
In 2008, the athletics department honored Kazmaier and former basketball standout Bill Bradley ’65 by retiring the No. 42 — worn by both stars — for all Princeton teams. The University also unveiled a life-sized statue of Kazmaier in a Heisman-esque pose, now located on the plaza outside Jadwin Gymnasium.
At the ceremony, author John McPhee ’53, the Ferris Professor of Journalism and an undergraduate roommate of Kazmaier, noted that long after his playing days the “enduringly superstitious” Kazmaier used 42 on his license plate, in his email address, and on his parking space Kazmaier Associates in Concord, Mass., even though there are only 36 spaces in the lot.
While the Kazmaier name endures in Princeton football, it also has a lasting place in women’s college ice hockey. Kazmaier sponsored the creation of that sport’s equivalent of the Heisman, named for his late daughter, Patty ’86, who played hockey at Princeton and died in 1990.
According to a New York Times obituary, Dick Kazmaier is survived by Patricia Hoffmann Kazmaier, his wife of 60 years; five daughters; and several grandchildren.
Read more: Gregg Lange ’70’s column on Dick Kazmaier ’52 and the remarkable Tigers of 1950-51
Alumni, journalists pay tribute to Kazmaier ’52