Kimbrough played on '39 championship team

Updated: May 9, 2006, 12:12 PM ET
Associated Press

DALLAS -- John Kimbrough, a Texas A&M football hero, movie star and former state lawmaker, died in his West Texas hometown of Haskell. He was 87.

Kimbrough died Monday after a brief bout with pneumonia, said his widow, Barbara Kimbrough. Funeral services will be held Friday or Saturday at the Holden-McCauley Funeral Home in Haskell.

Known as "the Haskell Hurricane," Kimbrough was a fullback for Texas A&M's 1939 national championship team. In the 1940 Sugar Bowl, Kimbrough rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns in the Aggies' 14-13 win over Tulane that capped an 11-0 season.

The next year, Kimbrough rushed for 658 yards, scored seven touchdowns and intercepted six passes, finishing second in the Heisman Trophy balloting to Michigan's Tom Harmon.

In the 1941 Cotton Bowl, Kimbrough rushed for 75 yards and scored the winning touchdown in the Aggies' 13-12 victory over Fordham. He also blocked an extra point try that would have tied the game.

Just out of college, Kimbrough starred in two Hollywood Westerns in 1942, "Sundown Jim" and "Lone Star Ranger."

Kimbrough then served as an Army pilot in the Pacific during World War II, retiring with the rank of captain.

He played for the Los Angeles Dons of the All-American Football Conference, a short-lived rival of the NFL. From 1946 through 1948, Kimbrough rushed for 1,224 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Dons.

Kimbrough served in the Legislature from 1953 to 1955. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954.

Mrs. Kimbrough, his wife of 64 years, said her husband still received letters asking for autographs.

Gov. Rick Perry, a Texas A&M graduate also from Haskell County, described Kimbrough as "bigger than life." Kimbrough attended Perry's wedding.

"No one else at Texas A&M even comes close to measuring up to the man and the legend John Kimbrough was," Perry said. "He was a once-in-a-lifetime person and captured the country's imagination."

Kimbrough is survived by his wife, two children, two grandchildren and one great grandchild.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press