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Dick Kazmaier, one of the best athletes to emerge from northwest Ohio, who as a Princeton halfback won the Heisman Trophy in 1951 as the nation’s outstanding college football player, but who rejected a professional career, saying he had achieved all he wanted in the sport and could make more money in business, died Thursday in Boston. He was 82.
The cause was heart and lung disease, said Bob Ruxin, president of Mr. Kazmaier’s company, Kazmaier Associates, an investment and financial consulting business with a special interest in sports.
Mr. Kazmaier, the last Ivy Leaguer to win the Heisman, went from Princeton to graduate school at Harvard and a lucrative career.
He was chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and president of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame.
Mr. Kazmaier, a 1948 graduate of Maumee High School, scored 111 points as a 5-11, 155-pound senior football player, and averaged 23.4 points per game in basketball.
At Princeton University, he was a three-year starter at halfback. He ran, passed, and punted the Tigers to a 24-3 record (1949-51), including 22 straight wins to end his career. He led the nation in total offense with 1,827 yards for the sixth-ranked Tigers in 1951, and won the Heisman vote by a then-record margin (1,777 to 424).
Mr. Kazmaier once was asked whether, when he went to sleep, he thought of himself as a Heisman winner, a successful businessman, or a family man.
“When I go to bed, I go to sleep,” Mr. Kazmaier said.
“I have always been very purposeful,” he told The Blade in 2000. “I enjoy getting the most I possibly can out of every day, and then spending a little time at the end of each one planning for the next. I don’t spend much time looking back.”
In 1998, the Maumee High School stadium was named in his honor.
“There’s nothing to compare with being recognized and honored by your hometown,” he said at the time. He also lent his name to an annual golf tournament, which raised money for a scholarship fund in his name — and of which he was a benefactor.
“Athletics are a great part of education, but it has to be kept in perspective,” he said in 1998. “There’s so much more to life than athletics or sports.”
He was born Nov. 23, 1930, the only child of Marian and Richard Kazmaier. He attended Union Elementary in Maumee.
He won high school letters in football, basketball, baseball, track and golf, and finished second in his class academically. He was recruited by 23 colleges, most offering full scholarships.
Ohio State expressed interest, but Mr. Kazmaier chose Princeton, in part because of local alumni.
As a junior and senior, he led Princeton to undefeated seasons and was named to most all-American teams. As a senior, in separate player-of-the-year polls, he won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Trophy. He was voted The Associated Press athlete of the year in 1951.
Frank McPhee, a teammate, said he knew Mr. Kazmaier would succeed. “He was the most determined kid I ever saw,” he said.
In his three varsity seasons, Mr. Kazmaier passed for 2,404 yards and rushed for 1,950. As a senior, he led the nation with 1,027 yards rushing in nine games.
His classmates voted him the senior who did the most for Princeton. Years later, The Princeton Athletic News named him Princeton’s football player of the century. In 1966, he was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.
Mr. Kazmaier was drafted by the Chicago Bears but declined to join the team, or any other one. Annual salaries then were often less than $5,000 a year. Instead, with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, he pursued a master’s in business administration at Harvard, receiving the degree in 1954.
After Harvard came three years as a Navy officer. He then started a career in sports marketing and consulting and in 1975 founded Kazmaier Associates.
In 2008, Princeton retired his number, 42.
He and the former Patricia Hoffmann of Perrysburg married on June 20, 1953. She survives.
Also surviving are daughters, Michelle, Kimberly, Susan, Kathy, and Kristen, and several grandchildren. His daughter Patricia — an ice hockey star at Princeton — died at age 28 in 1990 of a rare blood disease.
Blade staff writer Mark Zaborney contributed to this report.
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