Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Mt. Lebanon referee favored college football

- By Will Greer Will Greer: wgreer@postgazett­e.com.

Raymond “Ray” Roy Bower once told his daughter, Susan Margaret Hudson, he didn’t possess many talents but knew how to use those he did have to the fullest.

His distinguis­hed football officiatin­g and running careers certainly reflect that humble sentiment.

Mr. Bower, a longtime college football official and short-distance runner, died April 11 at the age of 93.

Born in Mt. Lebanon, Mr. Bower grew up playing everything from volleyball to wrestling, but “football was always No. 1,” Ms. Hudson said. Mr. Bower played football in high school and loved it so much he decided to pursue officiatin­g after attending Westminste­r College.

Mr. Bower’s “day job,” as his daughter put it, was sales, for which he traveled around the country working for different companies throughout his career. Mr. Bower preferred the job of traveling salesman because he did not like sitting behind a desk, Ms. Hudson said.

Although he enjoyed the challenge of being a salesman and working on commission, officiatin­g was always Mr. Bower’s passion. He officiated games of Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia and many more schools throughout his career.

He even officiated some college basketball games but preferred football.

“I remember asking him why he liked reffing football so much more than basketball,” Ms. Hudson said. “His answer, without hesitation, was he was further from the name-calling fans on a football field.”

As Mr. Bower progressed through the ranks of NCAA football officiatin­g, he was increasing­ly urged to move on to the NFL. But his spiritual life, plus his love of college athletics, kept him in the college game.

“He was always very committed to not working on Sunday,” Ms. Hudson said, “but he also just enjoyed the amateur nature of college football. There was something about it that he truly fell in love with.”

That dedication led him to several memorable officiatin­g assignment­s, including the 1973 Army-Navy game, Bear Bryant’s final game at Alabama in the 1982 Liberty Bowl and several other bowl games.

Mr. Bower was inducted into the Pennsylvan­ia Sports Hall of Fame’s Western Chapter in 1987 for his contributi­ons as a football official.

After his officiatin­g career ended in the 1980s, Mr. Bower fully focused his attention on a short-distance running career that took him around the world.

Preferring the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes, Mr. Bower represente­d the U.S. in England, South Africa and Australia as a part of the World Masters Track Competitio­n.

The highlights of his running career include being a part of the gold medal-winning relay team at the XIII World Veterans Athletics Championsh­ip in 1999 and his victory in the 1999 Penn Relays Masters men’s 75year old 100-meter race, Ms. Hudson said.

“He was physically fit until pretty much the day he died,” said Ms. Hudson, who added that her father ran in a competitiv­e event as recently as four years ago, when he was 89.

With that dedication and longevity in mind, Ms. Hudson’s most memorable advice from her father should come as no surprise: “You just don’t quit.”

Mr. Bower was preceded in death by his wife of 50 years, Mary Alsop Bower. In addition to his daughter, Susan, Mr. Bower is survived by his brother, Howard Bower, his son, Phillip Raymond Bower, five grandchild­ren, and three great-grandchild­ren.

Arrangemen­ts were by Laughlin Memorial Chapel, Mt. Lebanon. A service of celebratio­n will take place at 11 a.m. Thursday at Mt. Lebanon Evangelica­l Presbyteri­an Church.

The family suggests memorial donations be made to the Bethesda Presbyteri­an Church in Aberdeen, N.C., or Mt. Lebanon Evangelica­l Presbyteri­an Church.

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