Bob Beeks; St. Louis Police Officer Who Also Was the Second African- American Hired as an NFL Official

Article excerpt

Bob Beeks, who died last week at age 85, was a decorated St. Louis police officer. When he took off his gun and badge, he slipped on knickers and a stripped shirt and moonlighted on weekends at National Football League games.

Mr. Beeks was a line judge. In 1968, he became only the second African-American hired as an NFL official. He held that job for 22 years.

He was so good that he was chosen to officiate in five Super Bowl games. The league says his Super Bowl record is matched by only four other NFL officials in the history of the league, now in its 93rd year.

"He had a phenomenal record," Art McNally, Mr. Beeks' former boss and the NFL's longtime supervisor of officiating, said Thursday.

Robert Stanley Beeks Sr. of University City died on his birthday,

Dec. 26, 2012, at St. Mary's Health Center in Richmond Heights. He suffered an apparent heart attack, his family said.

His father delivered auto parts. Bob was the third of five children and a standout athlete at Vashon High School, class of 1946, earning letters in basketball, baseball and football.

"I thought I was an athlete," Mr. Beeks told the Post-Dispatch in 1994. "It was wishful thinking."

He earned a scholarship to what is now Lincoln University in Jefferson City. There, he fell in love with another student, Gladys Simmons from Chicago. They married in 1947.

Mr. Beeks dropped out of college for a paying job with the Harlem Broadway Clowns of Chicago, an African-American traveling basketball team. He and his family returned to St. Louis, where he found work at the St. Louis Recreation Division.

In 1955, he was accepted at the Metropolitan Police Academy and became a St. Louis Police officer. He was a beat officer in north St. Louis, worked as a detective and a training officer and was promoted to sergeant. He was awarded three Chief's Letters of Commendation for outstanding police work.

He started coaching Little League teams and went on to referee in high school and then college games. In 1968, the NFL recruited him. (The year before, the league had hired Burl Toler in San Francisco as its first African-American official.)

As the line judge, Mr. Beeks was one of seven officials on the football field (six at the time he started in pro ball.) The job of the line judge and the head linesman on the opposite side of the field is to determine if any player violates the rules at the scrimmage line. …