Burbank High School Deceased Alumni By Class Years.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
Leslie Charles Bruckner, Former BHS Teacher/Coach
Leslie C. Bruckner
1918 - 2014 Leslie Charles Bruckner was born in April 16, 1918 in Monroe, Michigan, youngest son of Austin and Matilda Bruckner, and died in September, 2014 in Pasadena, California. Football and family were the cornerstones of his life. From his small southeastern Michigan hometown of Milan in the 1930s tales of Les' athletic skill reached recruiters from mighty Michigan State University. Bruckner joined the Spartans backfield and made an immediate impact on the football field. He was also a shot putter on the track team. Les was in the starting lineup when Michigan State played Auburn in the first Orange Bowl game in Miami in
1938. A member of the greatest generation, Les Bruckner was a lieutenant in the United States Navy serving in the Pacific during World War II. Postwar, Les made a brief run at the National Football League, playing a part of one season with the Chicago Cardinals in 1945. In 2014 he became the oldest surviving player from the Chicago-St. Louis-Arizona Cardinals NFL franchise. Les married Joan Olds of Ypsilanti, Michigan, daughter of Dr. L.W. Olds, a track coach and later director of athletics at Eastern Michigan University. Les fathered two sons- Doug and Scott-and in 1949 the family moved to Burbank where Les was a successful football coach at Burbank High School. On weekends in the 1950s Les enjoyed taking his older boy to the Coliseum where the new NFL team, the Rams, were the toast of the football world. It was just one of many outings fondly remembered by the sons of a devoted father. When the boys were older they joined their Dad on camping trips to national parks and monuments in the American West and were encouraged-never pushed-when they pursued their own football dreams at Burbank High School. An academic as well as an athlete, with a Masters Degree from the University of Michigan, Les was a respected history teacher at Burbank High School. In 1962 he broadened his background in his chosen field, taking Joan and their son Scott to Europe on a six-month sabbatical trip traveling the North Atlantic on an Italian line steamship. Summers in the 1950s and 60s Les Bruckner, with the able assistance of his wife Joan, launched two successful small businesses in Burbank. He created the Bulldog Club day camps and later the Les Bruckner Swim School. After leaving coaching, and still teaching, Les began a highly successful "third act" in his football life-- an official. Les worked his way up from
high school games to major college sports and in the 1970s was a regular on officiating crews in the Pacific Eight Conference. Les worked as an umpire on the fabled gridirons of Notre Dame Stadium, the Los Angeles Coliseum, and the old Stanford Stadium. In 1972 Les was again in a major bowl game when he was assigned as umpire on the officiating crew for the Rose Bowl game between the University of Washington and Michigan Wolverines. Inspired by his father and his own love of the game, Scott also became involved in football officiating at the high school level. Scott was thrilled to actually take the field with his Dad as a fellow "striped shirt," and remembers the professionalism of his father and the respect Les received from players, coaches and other members of the officiating team. Les was honored with an invitation to tour Asian U.S. military bases to conduct football officials clinics and traveled with his wife Joan to Japan, the Philippines and South Korea. The move of NFL's Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1982 provided Les with one more opportunity to be involved in pro football. The Raiders hired Les as a member of the "chain gang" and he manned the down boxes at the LA Coliseum until the Raiders returned to Oakland in 1995. In 1993 Les was a member of the down box in the Rose Bowl at Super Bowl XXVII between the Cowboys and Bills. In 2012 the Pac 12 Officials Association inducted Les Bruckner into their Field of Honor in a ceremony in Palo Alto.
Les' amazing longevity and versatility in the football world was truly remarkable, but even more noteworthy was Les Bruckner's dedication to his family. Despite all the honors, Les was proudest of being a family man and celebrated not his own considerable achievements, but the accomplishments of his loving wife and his two sons. Les Bruckner was laid to rest at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Hollywood Hills, California. Les is survived by his wife Joan, his son Doug, his son Scott and daughter-in-law Dona, his grandchildren Andrew, Aleece, Anya and Amanda and great grandchildren, Jack, Jake and Jia. .
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Sept. 27 to Sept. 28, 2014