William Dean Jessup

March 17, 1929January 3, 2015
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William Dean Jessup, who went from Poly High School to Long Beach City College and USC all the way to the NFL and Canadian Football League, died Jan. 3. He was 85.

Earlier this month, the city of Long Beach lost one of its greatest football players when Poly alum Bill Jessup passed away on Jan. 3 at the age of 85. “He was a well-known player from the city who had a great career,” said longtime Press-Telegram sportswriter Al Larson. “Everybody always had high praise of Bill — he was from the old days, the leather helmets days of football.”

Jessup is a Hall of Famer at Long Beach Poly, Long Beach City College and with the Long Beach Century Club.

Jessup played end for Poly in the post-World War II years when the Jackrabbits were languishing in mediocrity, but that didn’t stop him from excelling. After an All-CIF prep career, he went on to LBCC, where he starred at tight end and defensive back in the 1947 season, before continuing on to USC, where he played for three years.

Jessup’s star turn came in the NFL, however, after the San Francisco 49ers drafted him in 1951. He would play with the team from 1951-58 as a receiver and a punter and then spend a season with the British Columbia Lions in 1959. He’s likely remembered fondly there, too, for a miracle touchdown catch that put the Lions in the CFL playoffs for the first time ever.

He finished his pro career in 1960 with the AFL’s Denver Broncos, before retiring back to Long Beach.

Jessup and his wife, Yvonne, had two daughters, Teri and Kathy, whom they raised in Long Beach. Jessup was a well-known lifeguard in those years, becoming fast friends with another famous Long Beach footballer-turned-lifeguard, John Olszewski.

“He was a sweet, kindhearted man,” Teri said of her father. “We didn’t really know that much about his career, because he never really talked or bragged about it.”

For Wilson students like Teri and Kathy, having a big-time Poly footballer as a dad wouldn’t necessarily have been a bragging point anyway. “I didn’t really think it was cool until later in life. But we did see him being interviewed on the news once, and that was something different,” Teri laughed. Though he didn’t talk much about his career, Jessup did have one of the all-time great football stories. The only break in his professional football career between 1951 and 1960 was the ’53 season, when he sat out a year to fulfill his commitment to the Navy.

Jessup, who was stationed in San Diego, played for the San Diego Navy team during that season. But one weekend, after defeating the Camp Pendleton Marine team on a Saturday, he hopped a train northbound, and played the next day for the 49ers against the Rams at Kezar Stadium.

Unfortunately for Jessup, an admiral on the base happened to have the radio tuned to the game. “The big wigs heard about it and he got in some trouble for that one,” Teri said.

Jessup lived for a time in Leisure World, and then stayed with Teri at her homes in Huntington Beach and Westminster, before moving into an assisted living facility a year ago.

Services are planned for noon Jan. 23 at Westminster Memorial Park.

By Mike Guardabascio, Press-Telegram

Posted: 01/17/15,


  • Chapel Service Friday, January 23, 2015
  • Reception Friday, January 23, 2015

William Dean Jessup

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January 25, 2015

Dear Teri and Kathy, I just read the newspaper article today about your Dad. He had such a wonderful career and many friends along the way. I love the family photos posted. He's happy now with your Mom and his beloved family. Love, Fran (Merritt Island, FL)

Cindy Ross

January 25, 2015

Dear kathy & Terry,
Uncle Bill will be missed! There is another star that shines bright in heaven! You are in our thoughts and prayers!

January 24, 2015

Papa will always be Cayden,s other Grandpa, He cherished his (Big Boy) and Cayden loved him. I am so thankful we became family.
Kimberly and Cayden Sions (Westminster,CA)

Jannie Mackay

January 23, 2015

Dear Kathy, Teri and families,
Your dad was such a great guy. I am so glad that I knew him. I know he was so proud of his loving family. The pictures are wonderful. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Lots of Love,

tony pino

January 23, 2015

Bill, may you rest in peace forever, we love you

Tony, Matt, Nick and Alex

Karen Quintana

January 22, 2015

Teri & Kathy,
You should both be so proud to be Bill's daughters. He was such a kind man. I always enjoyed being around him. May God give you peace during this sad time.

Caryle Jessup Walker

January 20, 2015

Teri and Kathy,
What a wonderful tribute to your father and the pictures are fabulous. I have such fond memories of Uncle Bill and found myself looking through some old pictures I had of him. He was such a humble man with a quiet nature, a great sense of humor and that "light up the room" smile. The similarities between him, Bob and my Dad Steve used to make us all laugh! May he rest in peace and you rejoice in all the wonderful memories you have of him.