Jerry Shipkey dies at 84; played in Rose Bowl for both USC, UCLA

Jerry Shipkey, who played for both USC and UCLA in Rose Bowl games during the 1940s before a standout career in professional football, has died. He was 84.

Shipkey died Nov. 28 at his home in Dana Point after a long illness, his family said.

The athlete entered USC under a naval officer training program and was transferred to UCLA after his freshman year.

USC beat Washington, 29-0, in the 1944 Rose Bowl game and UCLA lost to Illinois, 45-14, in the 1947 Rose Bowl game for its only defeat of the season. Shipkey is believed to be the only player to play in Rose Bowl games for both USC and UCLA.

Shipkey started the 1943 season on the Trojans' junior varsity and he was "the seventh of seven fullbacks, behind some great players" in USC's Rose Bowl appearance, he told The Times in 1993.

A linebacker and fullback, he became a key player for the Bruins, who were 10-0 during the 1946 regular season and shut out two opponents. Shipkey rushed for 475 yards and scored three touchdowns that season.

He also competed in track events at UCLA, including the shotput, discus, javelin and decathlon. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in history.

"It was a great way to get an education. I didn't have a real problem transferring because my ties to USC weren't too strong," Shipkey told the Orange County Register in 1993. "In those days everything was about going to classes and the war."

He played five seasons (1948-52) with the Pittsburgh Steelers, appearing in three Pro Bowls. He was primarily a linebacker, although he rushed for eight touchdowns as a rookie fullback. He called those years "the finest period of my life, years I thoroughly enjoyed."

Shipkey was traded to the Chicago Bears in 1953, but a shoulder injury in an exhibition game ultimately forced him to retire.

Gerard Wade Shipkey was born Oct. 31, 1925, in Fullerton to Arthur and Katherine Shipkey.

He was not the family's first football player.

His father was an All-American tackle at Occidental College in the 1920s who was nicknamed "Battleship." Uncles Ted and Harry were All-American football players at Stanford University in the 1920s.

Shipkey became a two-sport star at Anaheim High School, helping the football team win the CIF Lower Division title in 1941 and setting the state shotput record that remained his for several years.

His brother, Art, was also a top player at Anaheim High, but he was wounded in Germany during World War II.

"When the war ended, I was on a torpedo boat in the Long Island Sound," Jerry Shipkey told The Times in 1993. "I never got a scratch."

After retiring from pro football, Shipkey returned to Anaheim and worked with his father and brother as a gas and oil distributor. He went into business as a wholesaler of auto parts and equipment. After retiring, he lived in Dana Point and Laughlin, Nev.

He is survived by his wife, Carolyn; two sons, Carl and Mark; three daughters, Helen Louise Martin, Julie Pascoe and Lisa Apted; 10 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held Friday at 1 p.m. at South Shores Church, 32712 Crown Valley Parkway, Dana Point.

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