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Dick Dolack, Super Bowl IX field judge, passes away

Dick Dolack, an NFL official for 26 years passed away Dec. 29, 2018, according to a report in Referee magazine.



Francis Richard Anthony “Dick” Dolack, 1934-2018

Dick Dolack, an NFL official for 26 years passed away Dec. 29, 2018, according to a report in Referee magazine.

Dolack worked as a field judge (the position now identified as a back judge) in the NFL from 1965-1991 and wore number 31 for most of his career.

Born in Chicago, Dolack obtained his bachelors degree in pharmacy from Ferris State University. He then settled in Norton Shores, Michigan and was a pharmacist, retiring in 1999. He also served on the Norton Shores City Council for 40 years and was a member of several other civic organizations.

The NFL hired Dolack in 1965 as a field judge and worked that position his entire career. He worked 14 playoff games: one wild card, seven divisional and five conference championships. The highlight of his career happened in 1974, when he worked Super Bowl IX. During the Super Bowl, he and back judge Ray Douglas properly held their whistles when the Vikings tackled Steelers receiver Larry Brown. The ball popped free but head linesman Ed Marion ruled Brown down. Douglas and Dolack were on proper position and fortunately, Marion had the proper angle and got the call right.

Over the years, Dolack was field judge on crews lead by Jim Tunney, Gene Barth, Dick Jorgensen and Ben Dreith.

Dolack officiated several memorable games — his playoff record indicates that — but two games of his stand out. Dolack was on Gene Barth’s crew in 1989 when he officiated the infamous Eagles-Cowboys “Bounty Bowl.” The Eagles targeted Louis Zendejas, the Cowboys kicker, and delivered a hard hit to him after kickoff, a clear penalty today but not so much 30 years ago. Footage shows Dolack helping a dazed Zendejas to his feet, and then pulling the enraged kicker away from the Eagles sideline as the conflict escalated.

Dolack’s last playoff assignment was the 1987 AFC Championship Game, “The Fumble.” Dolack worked most of the game, but wasn’t on the field for the climatic moment. He pulled a leg muscle in the second half and had to leave the game. Alternate official Jerry Seeman came in and ruled the that the Broncos recovered the Earnest Byner fumble. That game was the first time Seeman ever worked the field judge position, but he was the alternate that was most compatible. This moment inspired the NFL to start assigning more alternates to the playoffs, so there would be officials more accustomed to a position.

After he retired, Dolack continued to scout officials for the NFL.

Dolack’s is survived by his wife of 63 years, Patricia, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Our sympathies to all who knew him and loved him. The text of his obituary appears below.

Richard Anthony “Dick” Dolack, age 84, passed away at home on Saturday, December 29, 2018. He was born on August 6, 1934 to Michael and Rose (Dojcak) Dolack in Chicago, IL. Dick was a graduate of Ferris State University, where he obtained a Bachelors degree in Pharmacy. He retired in 1999 as a pharmacist from Brookhaven Medical Facility and retired in 1991 as an NFL Official after 26 years.

Dick was a council member for the City of Norton Shores for 40 years, a board member for Goodwill Industries for 40 years, a member of the Muskegon County Airport advisory board, a board member for the Muskegon Community College Foundation, and a lifetime member of the Elks, Knights of Columbus, and Michigan Sport Sages. He has also been inducted into many Sports Halls of Fame throughout the State of Michigan and Illinois. Dick also owned D&B Sport Center for 38 years and continued to work scouting officials for the NFL after his retirement.

Dick was a loyal member of St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church. On August 20, 1955 he married Patricia Smith and she survives him along with 3 children, Rick (Cheryl) Dolack, Janet Dolack-Eckerle and David (Joy) Dolack; 8 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild, and brother, Michael (Sandy) Dolack. Dick was preceded in death by his parents and son-in-law, Glenn “Skip” Eckerle. A MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL will take place at 11:00 AM, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019 at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church (2929 McCracken) with Rev. Fr. Julian Reginato and Rev. Msgr. R. Louis Stasker presiding. VISITATION with the family will be 5PM-8PM on Wednesday at The Lee Chapel, 6291 S. Harvey St., 231-798-1100 and one hour prior at church in Marian Chapel. MEMORIALS can be directed to Norton Shores Fire and Police Departments and Harbor Hospice Foundation. Share memories with the family at

Published in Muskegon Chronicle on Jan. 1, 2019

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?"