Don Willer, USC's 1942 Football Captain, Dies

Aug. 26, 2005

Don Willer, who served as captain of the 1942 USC football team, died on Thursday (Aug. 25) in Torrance, Calif., from complications following heart surgery. He was 85.

No services are planned.

A three-year (1940-42) letterman at USC as a left tackle, he played for three Trojan head coaches: on Howard Jones' final team in 1940, for Sam Barry in his only year as coach in 1941 and in Jeff Cravath's debut season in 1942.

At the conclusion of the 1941 season, Willer was named captain of the 1942 USC team. But he ended up playing that 1942 season for the U.S. Navy's St. Mary's Pre-Flight Academy in northern California while still retaining his Trojan captaincy. As a matter of principle, he sat out St. Mary's games against USC during the war years, including the 1942 contest (a 21-13 Trojan victory).

He was the first L.A. City Player of the Year in 1938 at Manual Arts High.

After World War II, he was in the real estate development business.

He is survived by his wife, Martha, three sons, Michael, Ronald and Donald, seven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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