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Howard Roe, 13-year line judge and referee passes away



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Howard Roe, 1939-2019

Howard S. Roe, a NFL line judge and referee from 1984 to 1996 died last month at the age of 80 at his home in Castle Rock, Colorado. Roe wore uniform number 33 for his entire career. He became a referee in 1989 and abruptly left the NFL after the 1996 season when asked to return to the line judge position.

In his career, Roe worked three playoff games: two wild card games and one divisional playoff. He also worked two Pro Bowls – one as a line judge and one as a referee.

Roe was born in Oklahoma and attended Wichita State University where he played both football and baseball. Off the football field, Roe worked in the human resources field, retiring from Lockheed Martin. He started officiating at age 21 and worked 17 years at the high school level.

His rise through the college ranks started when Roe attended a spring scrimmage game. Big 8 (now Big 12) supervisor of officials Bruce Finlayson (also a NFL official) spotted Roe and encouraged him to apply. Roe quickly joined the Big 8 and worked his way into the referee position.

The NFL came calling in 1984, and Roe joined the pros and served as a line judge on crews lead by Jerry Markbreit and Pat Haggerty. In 1989, Roe became a referee, replacing the retired Fred Silva.

After the 1996 season, Jerry Seeman, supervisor of officials, asked Roe to return to the line judge position. Roe abruptly resigned and left the NFL. A 1999 article in Referee Magazine, intimated that the two parted on poor terms. It is unknown if the two ever worked out their differences.

Roe is survived by Joan, is wife of 58-years, two daughters and five grandchildren.

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

Howard S. Roe, 80, of Castle Rock, Colo., passed away peacefully on November 3, 2019.

A celebration of Howard’s life is planned for Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, at 2:00 at The Mill House in Castle Rock

Howard was born in Pond Creek, Okla., to Lucile and Harold Roe.  He graduated from Enid High School and went on to Wichita State University on scholarship where he received both his Bachelors and Masters Degrees.  He played both Baseball and Football for the Shockers. While at Wichita State, he met Joan Sipes and they married on June 11, 1961 in Columbus, Neb. He worked in Human Resources throughout his career and retired from Lockheed Martin. In addition to his corporate life, Howard was a referee in both the Big 8 Conference and the NFL.

Howard is remembered with love by his devoted wife, Joan, daughter and son-in-law, Suzanne and Rick Emery and their children, Jack, Libby and Allie; daughter and former son-in-law, Stephanie Young and Mark Young, and their children, Eric and Blake; brother and sister-in-law Dan and Christine Roe.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be given to the Alzheimer’s Association in Howard’s name.  

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?"