As a high school and college football umpire from 1950 to 1988, Chesterfield County resident Ray Beasley was known as “rule guy #1,” says one of his former colleagues. Another acolyte celebrates Beasley’s all-business approach to leadership.
Beasley, 99, a standout football player in high school and college, has finally been recognized for his career as a standout football official spanning four decades. Last month he was presented with the 2022 Gold Flag Award by the Touchdown Club of Richmond. The award honors a Virginia college football official who has demonstrated the highest level of integrity and sportsmanship throughout his career.
“It’s nice to know that you had respect for your peers,” Beasley said in a recent interview. Beasley worked on eight state high school championship games as a member of the Central Virginia Football Officials Association and was honored by the Southern Conference with the Silver Whistle Award for the league’s top college official in 1973 and 1981.
The senior official of a officiating team is the referee and is distinguished by wearing a white hat.
“He was probably the most respected rulesman we ever had in high school, and he was in college too,” said Ed Ryder, who received the 2017 Gold Flag Award. “Everyone worshiped him as the No. 1 rule man. If you had a problem, you went to Ray. It’s that simple. The white hat out there is in charge of the game and Ray knew how to take that kind of responsibility.”
Beasley took the job seriously.
“I worked hard on it,” he said. “I studied the rules and worked really hard on them.”
Rudy Ward, former Highland Springs head coach and past president of the Touchdown Club of Richmond, gave high praise to Beasley.
“Well, he was sort of the founding father of a lot of really high-profile officials in the area,” Ward said. “All these guys have other jobs but you’d never know because they worked so hard at the official’s job and that was one of the things that really set Ray apart. He was a teacher, but he was really a pro and he taught these guys how to be pros. He was the guy who set standards.”
Tommy Giles Sr., 86, was one of Beasley’s students and was a high school and collegiate football official for 52 years.
“He knew what his job was,” Giles said of Beasley. “He didn’t tolerate stupidity. I don’t know if anyone could reach Ray Beasley’s level. I tried, but I don’t think I ever made it.”
Beasley was a running back for the 1940 John Marshall High School state championship team that went unbeaten, untied, and scored no goals.
Beasley, the youngest of six children in a South Richmond family, said he decided to give up college and marry his high school sweetheart, Alice Lipscomb. “Some of the schools offered me scholarships, but I said I wanted to get married, and I did,” Beasley said. “I got a job at DuPont and it was shift work. And I worked multiple shifts and my wife worked downtown at Miller & Rhoads. We had a terrible time seeing each other.”
Beasley said he decided shift work at DuPont’s Spruance plant wasn’t for him. “I gave them my two-week notice and told Alice I was going to college,” he said.
Beasley said he joined some of his high school friends and enrolled at Virginia Tech. However, his college football career was cut short when he was drafted into the Air Force during World War II.
When the war ended, Beasley returned to Virginia Tech, where he majored in business administration and was a member of Tech’s 1947 football team playing at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
After graduating, Beasley was hired by the C&P Telephone Company, ending a career of nearly four decades as a district manager responsible for directory operations.
Beasley began refereeing high school football games in 1950 and during the latter part of his playing career he transitioned exclusively to working college games until he hung up the whistle in 1988.
“I spent a lot of time on it, but I enjoyed it. And I think I’m alive today because on my way home from work at the University of Richmond I would stop and walk the track, and do it 12 months of the year, not just during football season,” he said.
He and Alice had a son, Douglas, who is deceased, and a daughter, Janet, as well as three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Alice died in 2018.
After their children grew up, Beasley said Alice would accompany him on some of his acting college trips.
“My wife could come with me at the weekend,” he said. “We would go to Georgia or South Carolina or West Virginia and somewhere like that and it would be nice.”
Of all the calls he made as an official on the football field, Beasley said none was bigger than “the calls” he made to marry Alice and go to college.
“That’s right,” he said.
Beasley turns 100 on April 22nd. ¦