Jack Donald Pittges, 87, of Chicago, beloved husband of the late K. Lynn; loving father of Jeff (Leslie) and Bill (Elmin); dear grandfather of Liam, Ainslie, Miranda, Duncan, and Devin. Jack graduated with a BS degree in Commerce from DePaul University in1953. Represented paper mills for over 40 years. Was Vice President of Whitaker Carpenter Paper Company as the second largest stockholder when it was sold in 1985 to Inter-City Papers of Toronto, Canada.
Was a headlinesman in the WFL 1974 and 75, USFL l983, 84 and 85, the first two years of NFL Europe, 1991 and 1992 and as the Supervisor of Officials in Arena Football the first three years in 1987, 88 and 89 he wrote the rule book basically still in use today. In 1984 he made the call of a little known rule of “hiding an illegal player in the bench area” that put the quarter-final play-off game into overtime and it became the longest football game ever played 3:33 into the 7th quarter between Steve Young’s L.A. Express and Bobby Hebert’s Michigan Panthers at the L.A. Coliseum. That year Cal Lepore assigned him to officiate the championship game between George Allen’s Arizona Ranglers and Jim Mora’s Philadelphia Stars in Tampa, Florida. Verle Sorgen, the referee of the game, became the Supervisor of Officials in the Pac 10.
The first two years of NFL Europe, there were three teams in Europe (Barselona, Frankfort and London) plus five teams in the United States. The crew was joined for dinner in Sacramento, California by Mike Pereira and his wife. Mike asked how to go about applying as an official in the NFL. He subsequently not only officiated but became Supervisor of Officials. Dave Perry, Supervisor of Officials in the Big Ten, was the crew’s official observer in NFL Europe.
The Athletic Officials’ Association was founded in 1918 and Referee Magazine confirmed it to be the oldest local association in the United States. He was President and Chairman of the Board for the maximum three years in each post. For five years he was the AOA’s rules interpreter conducting sessions on all three sets of rules; the High School Federation, NCAA and NFL rules. When he signed his contract with the World Football League, John McDonough, Supervisor of Officials, who had been the referee on the previous NFL’s longest football game ever, had him resign as interpreter and concentrate strictly on the professional rules.
When the NFL and AFL merged, he was named the official timer for all Bear home games the first two years of which he timed were played in Wrigley Field and the next three years in Soldier Field. When he signed his contract to officiate in the WFL he was fired by NFL Supervisor of Officials, Art McNally. One year after the WFL disbanded, he was named Chief of the Bear Chain Crew by Jim Finks and Bill McGrain, which he held for twenty-five years until he retired in 2001.
On June 22, 2002 in Canton, Ohio, he was enshrined in the American Football Association’s Hall of Fame, at the time the 11th official so honored in 22 years.
In 1996 Dr. George Morgan, gastroenterologist at Elmhurst Hospital, discovered cancer cells in his esophagus. Instead of having the conventional surgical removal of his esophagus, he opted for the PDT (Photo Dynamic Therapy) laser treatment by Dr. Bergein Overholt in Knoxville, TN. He was the 96th person to undergo such treatment and the first with a strong heart, who probably would have survived the regular surgery. Dr. Richard Knopp, oncologist at Evanston Hospital, called and advised him not to try such a radical new procedure. When he was completely clean, Dr. Knopp spearheaded the decision of Evanston Hospital to send a doctor to Knoxville and learn PDT. Dr. Barry McKernan, the first surgeon to remove a gallbladder laproscopically in the United States in 1988, then performed a “stomach wrap” preventing the acid reflux which caused the cancer cells. Blue Cross Blue Shield hired Intracorp in Itasca, Illinois to do a case study of PDT and consequently paid the claim.
After retiring he did some extra work in films. He was the Governor of Georgia in “The Package” starring Gene Hackman. He also was in “Straight Talk” starring Dolly Parton and James Wood. Scenes were shot from 6PM to 6AM at the Shedd Aquarium for a full week. The entire week’s filming hit the cutting room floor due to the camera man using the wrong film for indoor shooting. Too many scheduling conflicts prevented any chance to refilm and critics stated that “Straight Talk” lacked continuity.
Funeral service at Simkins Funeral Home 6251 Dempster St. Morton Grove, IL 60053 Thursday at 10:30 a.m. Interment Rosehill Cemetery. Visitation Wednesday from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations to The American Cancer Society 225 N. Michigan Ave., Ste. 1200 Chicago, IL 60601 appreciated. Sign online guest book at www.simkinsfh.com. (847) 965-2500
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American Cancer Society
225 N. Michigan Ave., Suite 1200 Chicago, IL 60601, AB