First Football Academic All-American Passes Away
Jan. 16, 2013
Dr. Richard "Dick" Balzhiser of Menlo Park, CA passed away peacefully in Granite Bay, CA on December 23, 2012 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. He is preceded in death by his wife of 56 years Christine K. Balzhiser, his mother Esther Merrill Werner, and his father Earl Balzhiser. Dick was born and raised in Wheaton, IL.
He was an outstanding student and a star athlete at Wheaton High School. His abilities on the football field caught the attention of then University of Michigan football coach Bennie Oosterbaan and he was recruited as a "spinning fullback" in the single wing formation Oosterbaan used offensively.
At Michigan, Dick continued to excel in both the classroom and on the football field. He received B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemical Engineering and an M.S. in Nuclear Engineering.
In 1952 he became the first Michigan football player to earn first-team Academic All-American honors. Two years later he was awarded the Big Ten Medal of Honor for his accomplishments in the classroom and on the football field. He graduated at the top of his engineering class.
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