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Grover Klemmer, former NFL and USFL official, dies at 94

Grover Klemmer 1921-2015

Former head linesman, back judge and side judge, Grover Klemmer passed away on August 23, at the age of 94. Klemmer wore number 8 through his NFL career. He also worked in the United States Football League.

klemmerKlemmer graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. He lettered in football, basketball and track. He served in the Navy during World War II. After the war he joined San Francisco City College as in instructor and coach and he later served as athletic director.

In 1963, Klemmer joined the NFL as a head linesman. He moved to back judge in 1967 and then over to side judge when the position was created in 1978. He retired from the NFL 1981. (h/t to Teo on the Behind the Football Stripes forum)

While Klemmer wasn’t assigned a Super Bowl, he did work some memorable games. He was part of the crew assigned to the 1973 game where O.J. Simpson of the Buffalo Bills broke the 2,000-yard rushing barrier for a single season, the first player to do so. He was on the field for the play known as the Miracle at the Meadowlands in 1978, when Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcek fumbled a handoff while attempting to run out the clock, losing the game to the Eagles. Klemmer also worked the 1980 AFC Championship Game between the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers.

Klemmer was on a crew in the 1970s lead by referee Cal Lepore. After Klemmer’s NFL retirement, Lepore hired Klemmer in 1983 as a USFL official, where Lepore was the head of officiating. Klemmer worked the league’s inaugural championship game.

After leaving the field, Klemmer continued his officiating career as a replay official in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Klemmer is survived by his wife of 71 years, Elaine, two children, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.


Klemmer is shown here is his college days. His full obituary appears below.

A native San Franciscan and son of Ada Haines Klemmer and Grover Cleveland Klemmer. A 1939 graduate of Galileo High School, lettering in basketball, soccer, crew and track and field. He was the city champion at 440 yards and 880 yards with new city records in each event.

Grover graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 1943, lettering in basketball, football and track. He established world records for the 440 yard dash and 400 meters, and was part of the Cal relay team that set world records in the mile relay and 2 mile relay. In 1940, running for the San Francisco Olympic Club he was the national champion, winning the 400 meters in 47.0 seconds. Running for the Olympic Club, he again won the national championship in 1941 with a time of 46 seconds.

He served in the Navy during World War II where in 1945 he played football for the legendary Paul Brown, then coach of the Great Lakes Naval Station football team. Upon discharge, he was hired by San Francisco City College as an instructor and coach of both the track and football programs. He coached football for 20 years in which his teams won 5 championships including the 1948 team that went undefeated and claimed the national championship for that year. He finished his career as the head of the physical education department and as athletic director for CCSF. Additionally, he was an NFL and USFL referee.

He is a member of the San Francisco Prep Hall of Fame, University of California, Berkeley Hall of Fame, and the San Francisco Olympic Club Hall of Fame.

Grover liked to win, but was equally concerned about his athletes succeeding in class, finishing their education and becoming good men. He considered his greatest accomplishment to be his family.

Above all, Grover was a gentleman, loyal to his family and friends and respected by all who knew him–an honorable man.

He is survived by Elaine Klemmer, his wife of 71 years, his son Richard Klemmer (wife, Sandi) and daughter Carol Klemmer. He leaves 6 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.

A remembrance gathering will be held Friday evening, Sept. 4, 2015, from 5:00 to 7:00 at 7 Hillcrest Court, Oakland. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation in Grover’s name to the Foundation of City College of San Francisco earmarked for the football program.

Photo: San Francisco Chronicle Obituary, University of California at Berkeley Athletics

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Mark Schultz
Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"

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One thought on “Grover Klemmer, former NFL and USFL official, dies at 94

  1. Sorry to hear of his passing .I had the honor of attending CCCF back in 76,78 and interacting with Coach Klemmer in the athletic Dept and enjoyed my years working for him.A great man and Legend at CCCF.

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