Tucson sports legend Enke dies at 89

2014-04-15T00:00:00Z 2014-04-15T12:40:01Z Tucson sports legend Enke dies at 89Greg Hansen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Fred William Enke, who led Tucson High School to seven state championships in the 1940s and played quarterback for the Detroit Lions, Baltimore Colts and Philadelphia Eagles, died Sunday in Casa Grande.

He was 89.

Enke, who spent his post-sports days as a farmer in Maricopa, died at his family home in Casa Grande with his four children and wife, Marjorie, at his side.

He had been suffering from dementia.

Enke accompanied his family to Tucson in the summer of 1925 when he was 8 months old. He was the only child of former Louisville Cardinals coach Fred A. Enke, who would coach the University of Arizona to 511 basketball victories and also coach the school’s golf and football teams.

At Tucson High, Enke was selected the 1942 Arizona high school football player of the year. He helped the Badgers to state championships in football, basketball and baseball.

After three years as a naval aviator during World War II, Enke returned to Tucson and led the NCAA in total offense in 1947. He was also an All-Border Conference baseball and basketball player for the Arizona Wildcats.

He signed a free-agent contract for $12,000 with the Detroit Lions and bypassed his final two seasons of football eligibility at Arizona. He retired from the NFL after seven seasons, in 1954.

“Freddy was good in everything,” former UA teammate George Genung, later the basketball coach at Amphitheater High School, told the Star in 1999. “And not just good, the best.”

Along with his father, Enke was inducted into the first class of the UA Sports Hall of Fame in 1976. Fred W. Enke’s name is also on display in the Ring of Honor at Arizona Stadium.

“It seemed like I always had a lot of friends, and looking back it’s probably because all of the sports equipment was at my house,” Enke told the Star in 2003.

“Pappy would always have a bat or some basketballs. We just played. We didn’t have any formal training — there weren’t any camps like kids go to these days — we just played. Sometimes we’d play all day. High school was my best time.”

In his 60s, Enke became the No. 1-ranked age-group tennis player in the Southwest Region.

He had two tennis courts built at his Casa Grande home.

According to his daughter, Denise Latimer, a memorial service is scheduled for May 10 at 11 a.m. at the Casa Grande Presbyterian Church.

Contact sports columnist Greg Hansen at 520-573-4145 or ghansen@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @ghansen711

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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