Red Cashion, former NFL Referee, passes away
Red Cashion, beloved husband of Marie Elaine Cashion, passed away on February 10, 2019. Red, a retired NFL referee, was best known for his famous “FIRST DOOOOWWWNN” call, sent out over national television screens in an instantly recognizable Brazos Valley drawl.
Red’s connection with the Brazos Valley began at birth: he was born on the Texas A&M Campus on November 10, 1931, where his father was the Secretary of the YMCA – a time when faculty was housed on the A&M Campus. Growing up on campus, Red made his first income letting Aggies arriving at Campus on the train “rent” his little red wagon to haul their luggage to the dormitories. Red always rode on top of the luggage!
Red grew up in a household where the plaque on the wall said, “Christ is the Head of this House. The unseen guest at every meal. The silent listener to every conversation.” Red lived that plaque. He lived a Christ-centered life and chose to live that life in the Brazos Valley. He spent many years as a member and elder at A&M Presbyterian Church, which his father had helped start, and later in life was a deacon at First Baptist Church of Bryan. Recently, Red and Marie have been members of A&M United Methodist Church.
After graduating from A&M Consolidated High School in 1949, Red attended Texas A&M on a baseball scholarship, graduating in May of 1953, at which time he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. (Red’s older brother Jimmie was the Texas A&M football quarterback, something that football card makers never did get straight: the card manufacturers always credited Red on football cards for Jimmie’s quarterback role at A&M, but Red never played football for A&M). Red left the Army after four years, spending most of that four years around Washington, DC, and Fort Meade, where he served with the NSA. He was recalled during the Cuban Missile Crisis and briefed President Kennedy in 1963, something that he did not admit to even his family until just a few years ago.
Red has had a lifetime relationship with Texas A&M. It was a huge honor for Red that Texas A&M named the football officials’ locker room after him in 2003 (“Red Cashion Officials’ Dressing Room” at the North End of Kyle Field). As well, Red has been honored as a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumni (2003), Mays Business School Outstanding Alumni (2006), Fish Camp Namesake, a former member of the President’s Council, the 1990 main campus Muster Speaker, and at the time of his passing, Red was a member of the 12th Man Foundation Champions Council and a member of the Corps of Cadets Development Council. Red also served as a guest professor of insurance at Texas A&M. Red was active over the years in many different parts of University life: one of his favorites, which he Chaired up until his death, was The Association of Former Students’ Student Loan Trustee Committee.
Raising a family in Bryan-College Station during the 1960s and 1970s, Red started in business with his father-in-law, Hershel Burgess, and Red’s best friend from rival high school days, Dick Haddox (a Navasota Rattler). Their insurance business, Burgess, Cashion & Haddox, eventually merged with and became ANCO Insurance, which survives and thrives today. Red served as Chairman Emeritus for many years at ANCO.
Red’s father-in-law also got Red interested in officiating football, and Red started officiating junior high school games while he was still in college. Beginning as a line judge in 1972, Red joined the National Football League, moving to the referee’s position in 1976, and eventually officiated Super Bowls XX and XXX, while serving as an alternate in two more. All told, Red served 25 years in the NFL, officiated over 500 games and 17 additional post-season assignments, was President of the Professional Referees Association and on its Executive Board for 10 years, was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1999, was named the NFL Referees Association Honoree in 2011, and received the Art McNally Award in 2015 (awarded at the Pro Bowl and given to an NFL game official who exhibits exemplary professionalism, leadership, and commitment to sportsmanship, on and off the field). For many years after leaving the field, Red was the referee’s voice on John Madden’s video football game Madden NFL. Red remained on the NFL payroll as a trainer of NFL referees until 2014, training new NFL referees in the art of keeping the game interesting and exciting. Since his last NFL retirement, he has continued to work with “his” referees on a volunteer basis. His family is so grateful for the calls and visits from his NFL friends during the last few months, as well as the many wonderful friends and neighbors who have been so supportive.
For a man who spent so many years traveling that he had lifetime platinum cards on multiple airlines, Red’s heart never left the Brazos Valley. He has a lifetime of awards for efforts on behalf of the communities of the Brazos Valley, including Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce in 1964, Chairman of the Brazos County Industrial Foundation, Chairman of the Brazos County Association of Independent Insurance Agents, Chairman of the Region VI Education Service Center, Brazos County Volunteer of the Year in 1972, and Brazos County Citizen of the Year in 1994, presented to Red that year by President George H.W. Bush. Until just a few years ago, Red rang the bell and collected for the Salvation Army every Christmas.
Red is survived by his beloved wife, Marie Elaine Cashion, his children and their spouses, James H. & Mary Cashion, Sharon L. Cashion, Joyce & Bicker W. Cain, and Shelley & Robert I. White. In addition, Red is survived by his six grandchildren Caitlin & Joel Stibbe, Colter L. & Erica Cashion, Mason H. Cashion, J. Marshall Cashion, Cashion & Leslie Cain and Field & Jennifer Cain, and four great-grandchildren, Maura & Thomas Stibbe, and Lexie & Sophia Cain. In addition, Red is survived by his sister-in-law Lila D. Cashion and her four children and their spouses, Paul & Jenny Cashion, Marilyn & Stan Speegle, Emily & Joe Endres, and Timothy & Teresa Cashion, and seven grandchildren, Andrew, Philip & Adam Cashion, Jeep & Vendie Endres, and Erin & Neal Cashion. Red had a special relationship with Marie’s niece and her husband, Monica and Schoen Maekawa, and nephew, Michael Echavez.
Red was predeceased by his loving wife of 47 years, Lou Burgess Cashion, his brother and hero, James T. Cashion, his parents Mason Lee “Cash” and Winnie (Blakeley) Cashion, Sr., and his best friend and partner of over 50 years, Dick Haddox.
Special mention must be made of Red’s loyal caregivers, Russ Kilpatrick and Janeen & Don Wood, the wonderful medical professionals at Hospice Brazos Valley, the loving caregivers at The Parc at Traditions, and his and Marie’s long-time housekeeper, Tania Salazar.
A celebration of Red’s life will take place at A&M United Methodist Church on February 18, 2019, at 10:00. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Callaway-Jones.