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USC Devotee ‘Mr. Trojan,’ Nick Pappas, Dies At Age 99

Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo

Nick Pappas, affectionately known as “Mr. Trojan” for his 59 years of service to the University of Southern California, died of natural causes Friday at his Pasadena home, a USC spokesman said today.     Pappas was 99, according to USC spokesman Tim Tessalone.

Pappas began his connection with USC as a tailback on the football team from 1935-1937, leading Howard Jones’ Trojans in rushing in 1935. Pappas played professionally with the Hollywood Bears in 1938 and 1939.

He later returned to USC to coach the freshmen football teams in 1939 and 1940.

He was the stunt double for actor Pat O’Brien, playing Knute Rockne, in the 1940 movie”Knute Rockne — All American.” He entered the Navy during World War II and earned a Purple Heart and Silver Star.

Pappas then scouted for pro teams for six seasons, and for USC for two years. He was named an assistant varsity coach from 1953 to 1956, and the ’54 squad played in the Rose Bowl.

Pappas then built USC’s Trojan Club donor group into the most successful organization of its type in the nation, Tessalone said. He rose to the position of associate athletic director in charge of athletic development.

And although Pappas retired from his fulltime position in 1981, he remained active in the department until 2004, working on the endowment fund through wills and estates, he said.

He was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997 and was a recipient of USC’s Alumni Service Award.

Pappas is survived by daughters Lisa Widman and Mona Pappas, along with 5 grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren. His wife of 66 years, Deede, and a daughter, Rene Arrobio, have already died.

Services were pending. The family suggested donations be made to the USC Nick Pappas Football Scholarship, c/o Ron Orr, USC Athletic Department, Heritage Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0602.

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