I’m not sure what the appropriate salutation is for Pearl Habor Day, since ‘happy’ doesn’t really seem appropriate. On this date–which shall live in infamy–the United States was unwillingly plunged into a conflict, the likes of which the world had never seen.
Victory in World War II took the country’s greatest soldiers, comprised of some of the world’s bravest men. One of those men was Theodore “Ted” Lapka, who answered the call to the Air Force in 1945, suspending his pro football career with the Redskins.
Mr. Lapka passed away last Thursday at the ripe old age of 91. In his pro career, he played offensive end, and had 128 receiving yards and two touchdowns in his career. He arrived the year after the team won the NFL Championships in 1942, and played for the Redskins from 1943-44 and 1946, sacrificing his 1945 season for the war.
He was one of the oldest remaining Redskins Alumni.
During Redskins Military Appreciation Week, we celebrate the life of Mr. Lapka, by looking back over his many accomplishments. Here are some notable notes from his obituary, including the fact that he played football for the Air Force ‘Super Bombers’ while serving his country:
Lapka, Theodore A. “Ted” Age 91, WWII U.S. Army Air Force vet, a longtime resident of Olympia Fields, IL, died Thursday, December 1, 2011 at ManorCare Health Services in Naperville, IL. He was born April 20, 1920 in Hawthorne, IL.
Ted attended St. Ignatius High School graduating in June, 1938. When he was a high school senior, Ted had the good fortune to compete in the National Catholic High School track meet at Notre Dame University (Analogous to playing in the Super Bowl in professional football). He was awarded a football scholarship and finished a semester at DePaul University before transferring to St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa.
Ted continued his education at St. Ambrose earning a B.A. degree with a major in Latin with minors in Spanish and education. He continued to excel in football and track during his college years and was an initial inductee into the St. Ambrose Hall of Fame in 1979.
Ted started his professional football career with the Chicago Cardinals in 1942. After he was released by the Cardinals he was picked up by the Washington Redskins and was a member of the team in 1943, 1944 and 1946. His NFL years were interrupted by a short stint in the U.S. Army Air Force where he played exhibition football for the 8th Army Air force football team, the Super Bombers.
While with the Redskins, he was attending DePaul University Law School graduating with a Law degree in 1948. Ted then practiced law from 1948 through 1961 as counsel to Bituminous Casualty Corporation in Chicago engaging in investigative, administrative and trial work. In 1962, he became employed as an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission and retired in 1990 at age 70. Ted continued in general law practice until December, 2000.
By all accounts, Mr. Lapka was a good football player and a better man. Here’s to you, Ted, and thank you for your time in Washington and your service to your country.