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UCLA Mourns the Loss of Terry Debay

Jul 29, 2021

The UCLA community was saddened to learn of the recent passing of Terry Debay, a member of the 1954 National Championship football team. Debay died in Concord, CA on July 15 after battling illness.

Debay was a member of the UCLA football team from 1951-54 after attending Canoga Park High School. His Bruin teams posted a combined 30-6-1 record for an impressive 82% winning percentage and was ranked among the nation's top 20 teams in all four seasons. UCLA captured conference titles in the 1952, 1953 and 1954 seasons under the direction of head coach Red Sanders, the only time the program has won three straight league crowns. It suffered just three Pacific Coast Conference league losses over the course of those four seasons.

Debay, who wore No. 40, played in the backfield of the single-wing offense and at linebacker for the 1954 Bruins. He was named the Henry R. "Red" Sanders Trophy winner as UCLA's Team MVP that season. He called the offensive signals in the huddle for the Bruins who finished 1954 with a perfect 9-0 record, posting five shutout victories along the way including decisive wins over Stanford (72-0) and USC (34-0). Unable to go to the Rose Bowl due to the no-repeat rule after participating in the 1954 Rose Bowl Game, United Press International voted UCLA as the No. 1 team in the land in the final poll while the Associated Press listed the Bruins at No. 2. The Bruins led the nation in scoring that season racking up over 40 points per game. It remains one of only two UCLA teams to average at least 40 points per contest. The Bruins topped the nation in rushing defense (73.2 yards per game) and scoring defense (4.4 points per game) that season. The 1954 squad also led the conference in total offense and rushing offense.

Having participated in ROTC at UCLA, Debay joined the US Air Force upon graduation from 1956-1958. He completed pilot training alongside his best friend since age 13, Canoga Park HS and UCLA teammate, Bob Heydenfeldt. Shortly thereafter, Debay joined Head Coach Tommy Prothro as an Assistant Coach at Oregon State for two seasons before moving back to Southern California to embark on a decades-long, successful career in Investment Real Estate.

He is survived by his beloved wife Jan Askins Debay of 63 years; daughters Lisa Debay Braselle, Lori Debay Crowley and Lynn Debay Davis (UCLA '91); sons-in-law Michael Crowley and Rick Davis; Grandchildren Malisa Aragon (Marcos), Taylor Braselle (Amanda), Maiah Hollander, Tyler Hollander, Aidan Crowley, Lindsay Davis, Paige Davis and Drew Davis. He is preceded in death by son-in-law Hugh Braselle.

His family relates that Terry became a Christian at age 11 and was driven by a deep faith and rooted in a long life of service to others. Debay often told family and friends that he "knows God is a Bruin. How do I know? Just look at the colors of his day uniform … the sky is BLUE and the sun is GOLD."

Services are pending at this time. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the "UCLA Foundation." Please indicate that the donation should go to the UCLA Athletics Department in memory of Terry Debay.
Checks made out to the "UCLA Foundation" may be sent to:
UCLA Athletics Department
Attn. Neema Barbod
P.O. Box 24044
Los Angeles, Calif. 90024-0044