Tommy Bell, Former NFL Referee, Is Dead at 63

Associated Press

Thomas P. (Tommy) Bell, a prominent lawyer, public speaker and former National Football League referee, died Thursday of chronic leukemia. He was 63.

Bell had been hospitalized since Feb. 6, a St. Joseph Hospital spokeswoman said. Members of his family were with him when he died.

"Tommy Bell gave NFL officiating the same class, integrity and consideration that also marked his professional career as an attorney," NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle said in a statement from New York.

Bell spent 15 years as a referee in the National Football League, retiring in 1976. He headed the officiating crews of eight pro football championship games and in Super Bowls III and VII.

Bell, a former member of the University of Kentucky's Board of Trustees and its athletics board, was known across the state as a booster of higher education. Flags on campus were lowered to half-staff as a tribute to Bell.

Bell leaves his wife, Leslie, and son, Thomas Bruce Bell, both of Lexington, and a half-sister, Mrs. Dan Winters of Murray, Ky.

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