Karl Eller

While covering the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, I sat down to breakfast in La Jolla before the Saturday round when a man rode up on a bicycle, parked it, and took a seat near me. It was Karl Eller, namesake of UA’s Eller College of Business Management, then 79 years old and as fit as a man 20 years younger. I introduced myself and he took a seat and talked for more than an hour. It was a special time. Eller, who died last week at 90, was known for his financial successes, but he spent most of time at that 2008 breakfast telling fascinating stories of his boyhood in Tucson: He was a starter on three state championship teams in one year at Tucson High, the football, baseball and basketball teams of 1945-46, his senior year. He delivered the Arizona Daily Star, was a water boy for Tex Oliver’s great UA football teams — the Blue Brigade — of the late 1930s. He said the only way he was able to attend college was to spend two years in the Army and use the GI Bill to enroll at Arizona. He then became a starter on the Arizona football teams of 1950 and 1951. “The most influential man in my life was (former THS football coach) Rollin Gridley,” he told me then. “And I would guess almost everybody on those teams of the 1940 would tell you the same thing.”