June 1, 2016
By Michael Bertsch
Former University of Notre Dame football All-America quarterback Bob Williams died Thursday (May 26) at his Mercy Ridge retirement home in Timonium, Maryland. He was 86.
Williams was a two-time All-American for Notre Dame and led the Irish to an undefeated season and national championship in 1949. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
Calling hours are from 4 to 7 p.m. (ET) Friday (June 10) at Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home (6500 York Road) in Baltimore, Maryland. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday (June 11) at The Church of the Immaculate Conception (200 Ware Avenue) in Towson, Maryland. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions are made to Disabled American Veterans (www.dav.org). Please click HERE to donate.
A two-year starter for the Irish at quarterback from 1948-50, Williams was an All-American during his final two seasons, including a consensus All-America selection in 1949. As a sophomore in ’48, playing behind Frank Tripucka, Williams completed eight of 14 passes for 110 yards and ran for another 11 yards on six carries.
As a junior in ’49, Williams assumed the starting reins, leading the Irish to an undefeated season and national championship, while finishing fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting. He set a (then) Notre Dame single-game record for completion percentage by connecting on 13 of 16 passes against Michigan State on Nov. 5, 1949. Williams also recorded a passing efficiency rating of 161.4 that season – a record that stood for 60 years and has been bested just once in school history. He carried 34 times for 63 yards and one touchdown, completed 83 of 147 passes for 1,374 yards and 16 TDs and averaged 39.3 yards per punt. During that 1949 season, Williams ranked sixth in the NCAA in total offense.
As a senior in ’50, Williams finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting. He completed 99 of 210 passes for 1,035 yards and 10 TDs, while rushing 40 times for 115 yards and two TDs.
During his three-year career, Williams helped the Irish to a 23-4-2 record, including a school-record 11 consecutive victories to open a starting quarterback’s career. He played in the 1951 College All-Star Football Classic and was a first-round selection of the Chicago Bears in the ’51 NFL Draft.
Williams played for the Bears in 1951 and 1952 before serving in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. After completing his Naval service, he returned to Chicago in 1955 and played one more season for the Bears.
After ending his professional football career, Williams founded the Arundel Woods Construction Company in 1960, which he dissolved in 1996. He also had a career in banking, and in 1964 he was named president of Riverside Federal Savings and Loan, which later became Harbor Federal Savings and Loan, and finally Harbor Federal Savings Bank. In addition, Williams served two terms as a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta before retiring in 2000.
Williams was born Jan. 2, 1930, in Cumberland, Maryland. He married his high school sweetheart Anita Galvin in 1952, with Anita passing away in 1998. Williams is survived by six children – sons Mark, Robert Jr., and James, and daughters Anita, Barbara and Susie – as well as 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
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Michael Bertsch, director of football media relations at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2006. An Akron, Ohio, native, he graduated from Walsh University (Ohio) in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and also received his master’s degree in health and physical education with an emphasis in sports administration from Marshall University in 2001.