Ellsworth Kissinger and Mike Dowell were as close as brothers during their years together at York High and the University of Southern California.

Both played football for the Bearcats and Trojans during the 1950s.

After college, Kissinger considered staying in California, but he returned to York and started a football coaching career. Dowell remained in California and began a career in the Air Force.

Dowell, who's now retired from the service, recently attended a luncheon marking the 125th season of USC football.

At the luncheon, medallions were handed out to former players. Dowell picked up a medallion for his longtime friend and mailed it to him.

Kissinger, who's been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease, was unable to attend the luncheon.

"Ells has worn it (the medallion) around his neck," said Kissinger's wife, Sue. "He knows it's from USC."

The Kissingers, who were high school sweethearts at York High, have been married for 56 years.

"We've had some wonderful years together," Sue Kissinger said. "There have been some tough times lately, but it's been a wonderful ride."

Sue Kissinger watched her future husband, a USC quarterback, lead the Trojans to two victories over Notre Dame, including one game in which he passed for two touchdowns and ran for another. Kissinger also played in a Rose Bowl against Ohio State.

After returning to York, Kissinger started the Eastern York County Youth Football program and later became Eastern York High School's first football coach.


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Following his tenure at Eastern, Kissinger brought the West Coast offense to Central York as the Panthers' offensive coordinator for many seasons.

"I'm very proud of him," Sue Kissinger said. "He did a lot for kids in York."

Ellsworth Kissinger is currently residing at Manor Care South.

"The head maintenance man there comes in the dining room, and while standing in the doorway yells, 'hey coach,'" Sue Kissinger said. "Ells just beams. The man was on Eastern's first team."

-- Reach Dick VanO linda at dvanolin da@yorkdispatch.com.