Charlie ``Choo-Choo'' Justice dies at 79

Updated: October 17, 2003, 10:02 AM ET

CHERRYVILLE, N.C. -- Charlie "Choo-Choo" Justice, a North Carolina running back who twice finished runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in the late 1940s and then played for the Washington Redskins, died Friday. He was 79.

Justice died at his home in Cherryville, family friend Hugh Morton said. Justice had been in declining health the last five years.

In four years at North Carolina, the star running back gained 4,883 yards running and passing, a record that stood for 45 years until quarterback Jason Stanicek topped it in 1994. Justice was on hand to congratulate Stanicek.

In 1948, Justice was second to Doak Walker of SMU in the Heisman Trophy balloting. The next season, Notre Dame's Leon Hart got the award ahead of Justice.

North Carolina went to the Sugar Bowl twice and the Cotton Bowl once with Justice. The Tar Heels lost all three games but went 32-9-2 while Justice was at the school.

In the 1950 College All-Star Game in Chicago, he gained 133 yards, 48 more than the Philadelphia Eagles collected as a team. He was named the game's most valuable player.

He played halfback for the Redskins from 1950-54. Justice was honored by the Redskins in 2002 as one of the team's 70 greatest players during its 70th anniversary celebration.

He was the first athlete inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

Justice is survived by his wife, Sarah Hunter Justice; a daughter, Barbara Crews; two granddaughters; and one great-granddaughter.

Funeral arrangements have not been completed.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index