Gerald Nelson Nesbitt, age 91, of Little Rock, died April 27, 2023. Gerald was born in Big Sandy, Texas on March 3, 1932. He was the son of Dallas L. and Clara Nesbitt.
After graduating from high school, Gerald attended Tyler Junior College for one semester, worked for his father for one year and then on January 8, 1951, he was serving in Korea. After his service in Korea, he was returned to the states, and in 1953, he played football for the Camp Pendleton team that won the West Coast Marine Championship.
His play in the Marines earned him a scholarship to the University of Arkansas where he became one of the greatest-all around players in Razorback History. For the Hogs he played fullback and outside linebacker and also handled punting and place kicking for the seasons of 1955, 1956, and 1957.
As a sophomore in 1955, Nesbitt was drafted by the New York Giants. (Nesbitt was drafted as a “future” and chose to stay in college two more years.)
In addition he scored the most touchdowns of any player in the SWC conference. He was voted to receive the Crip Hall Award as the outstanding player in the Razorback homecoming game. He was the fullback on the All-America Blocking Team and on the Academic-All America Team. He finished his Razorback career as the leading punter, second-leading ground gainer, and third-leading scorer in school history. But his greatest award was yet to come.
On December 28, 1957, in Kezar Stadium in San Francisco the annual East-West College All-Star game was played. Nesbitt, as the fullback for the West All-Stars, carried the ball for 22 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns. He caught a pass for a third TD as the West defeated the East 27-13. Gerald was awarded the William F. Coffman Trophy as the outstanding player in the 33rd annual post-season classic.
Gerald then went on to play 4 seasons with the Ottawa Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League. In 1960, Ottawa won the Grey Cup as CFL Champions and in 1961, Nesbitt was voted as Ottawa’s outstanding player and was one of the nominees for the league’s MVP award.
Gerald was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1991, and into the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor in 1999. Arkansas football fans will never forget Razorback #31.
He went to work as a salesman for a large building projects company for 47 years. He loved his customers and his work friends.
On 3-3-2008, he retired to play golf at the Little Rock Country Club and to volunteer at the VA hospitals in Little Rock and North Little Rock. His routine was to “work” at the VA, have lunch with his wife Juanita, then head to the golf course. He loved his time spent at the VA and at the golf course. It was at the club where he became excellent at throwing clubs, hurling golf balls into the woods and cussing. He loved it all and especially his friends at the club. “Once a marine, always a marine”. Semper Fi And Go Hogs!
He was predeceased by parents, two brothers, and four sisters, his son Michael Nesbitt and two grandsons of Saint Louis, Mo.
Survivors are wife, Juanita, daughters Missy Bement(Paul), Melanie Binz, Monica Watts, and one son. He is also survived by one very special step-son Brandt Castleberry of Hot Springs, and His sister Cynthia Wainscot(Chuck). 5 Grandchildren, mother in law, Ethel Brown, sister in law Connie Jarvis and so many dear friends too numerous to list. He loved all.
The family deeply appreciates the loving care and support by Charlottes Home care, especially given by Charlotte and Eddie, also to the Right at Home care given by Nora and to the Arkansas Hospice Care Home team providing care, dignity, and support.
Memorials may be sent to Our Lady of Holy Souls, Mon. Allen Trust Fund., 1003 N. Tyler, Little Rock, Arkansas 72205, or to the Razorback Foundation, 1295 South Razorback Road, Suite A, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Thursday, May 4, 2023 at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Holy Souls Catholic Church followed by a reception. Arrangements are under the direction of RuebelFuneralHome.com