FORMER USC ALL-AMERICAN ELMER WILLHOITE DIES

Sept. 2, 2008

Elmer Willhoite, a 1952 consensus All-American guard on the USC football team, died on Aug. 19 in Hawthorne, Nev. He was 78.

Willhoite, a 2-year Trojan letterman (1951-52) out of Merced (Calif.) High, was a member of USC's team that defeated Wisconsin, 7-0, in the 1953 Rose Bowl to give the Pacific Coast Conference its first victory over the Big Ten since the two leagues began their Rose Bowl agreement in 1947. His second-half 72-yard interception return set up USC's game-winning touchdown against UCLA in 1952, with the 14-12 win sending the Trojans to the Rose Bowl.

He also earned All-Conference honors in 1952 and played in the 1953 Hula Bowl.

He was drafted by the Browns, but instead spent 2 years playing in the Canadian Football League before a knee injury ended his football career. He then briefly boxed professionally and appeared in some Hollywood films before starting his own salvage contractor business, H & S International.

He is survived by his son Edward (and wife, Jackie), his stepson Bill Vassalo (and wife, Jackie) and 6 grandchildren.

Willhoite was cremated and a memorial service is pending. Donations can be made in his name to the USC Athletic Department (Heritage Hall 203, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0602).

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