September 4, 2008

Earl Lunsford passes away at 74

The Canadian Football League and the Winnipeg Football Club regretfully learned Thursday of the passing of Earl Lunsford, a decorated Blue Bombers general manager for 15 years who is a member of both the Winnipeg and Canadian Football Hall of Fames. Lunsford died at his home in Fort Worth, Texas. He was 74.

“Earl was here when I first arrived in Winnipeg and he made a big impact on this city and the football club,” said Lyle Bauer, president and CEO of the Blue Bombers. ”He contributed significantly to the Canadian Football League both as a player and as a general manager.”

“Earl was passionately committed to the Canadian Football League, both as a player and a general manager. He was a straight-talking, no-nonsense Oklahoman who served the Winnipeg Football Club extremely well,” said Paul Robson, who worked under Lunsford as assistant-GM and eventually took over the position. “First and foremost, he was a football executive that understood it was a business of professional sports entertainment. Personally, he was a great mentor and a great teacher.”

Lunsford, a native of Stillwater, Oklahoma, played six-years in the CFL – all with the Calgary Stampeders – and finished his career with 6,994 yards and 55 touchdowns. A two-time league all-star, the Oklahoma State product once scored five touchdowns in a game (on Sept. 3, 1962 in Calgary).

Lunsford was the general manager of the Winnipeg Football Club from 1968-1982 and leaves a lasting legacy on the franchise. The improvements made to the Blue Bombers facility were made during his regime.

Earl helped navigate through some tough times, and he was the one in charge during the stadium expansion from 22,000 to 32,000 seats,” said Robson. “He was the GM when the upper deck additions to the East and West side were made.”

Lunsford was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1983. He was inducted, as a builder, into the Winnipeg Football Club Hall of Fame in 1990.

Lunsford is survived by his wife, Margot; two children Brenda and Lamar and three grandchildren. Funeral services are pending.