Bob Ghilotti, an eighty-nine year old summer resident of the Incline Village, Lake Tahoe Area, passed away Sunday, April 29 at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, California with his family and friends at his side. Throughout life his positive attitude and enthusiasm were hallmarks of his character and professional football coaching career.
Robert Ghilotti left behind a legacy in football being a part of some of the most innovative passing games of the time. While most teams were still dedicated to running the football, and only throwing the ball when absolutely necessary, the teams Ghilotti was a part of always featured a dangerous and cutting edge passing game that led to the development of All-American and record setting quarterbacks and receivers.
Joe Marvin a football historian, former football coach, and long-time friend of Ghilotti’s said, “Bob Ghilotti was way ahead of his time with the passing game, no doubt about it. He was a pioneer in the passing game and he was an outstanding man.”
Robert Ghilotti was born in Clovis, California to Giovanni and Maria Ghilotti from Grosio, Italy. He grew up in Modesto and attended Modesto High School and Modesto Junior College. At the JC he lettered in three sports; football, basketball and track. A veteran of the Second World War, Robert Ghilotti served in the United States Army (1942-1946).
Following the war, he played wide receiver and defensive end for the Stanford Cardinal. After Bob Ghilotti’s exceptional playing career at Stanford University, became the Wide Receivers coach for the Stanford (1951-1958) under head coach Chuck Taylor. Ghilotti worked with eventual All-American, College Football Hall-of-Famer and longtime friend Chris Burford, as well as former college and NFL standout Quarterback, John Brodie. Ghilotti also coached two time consensus All-American Tight End and third runner up for the Heisman trophy Bill McColl while at Stanford, as well as former 1st overall NFL draft pick and consensus All-American Quarterback, Bobby Garrett.
After Ghilotti’s successful coaching career at Stanford University, he accepted an offensive coaching position at the University of Colorado at Boulder While at Colorado he mentored his second All-American Wide Receiver in Jerry Hillebrand. In Ghilotti’s final season at Colorado he helped lead the team to an Orange Bowl appearance against LSU.
Following the 1961 season Ghilotti made the jump to the Professional coaching ranks where he accepted a position with the Dallas Texans, later the Kansas City Chiefs of the American Football League. With the Texans Ghilotti worked with legendary coach and NFL Hall of Famer, Hank Stram, as well as legendary NFL owner and Super Bowl innovator, Lamar Hunt. In his first season with the Team (1962) the Texans defeated the Houston Oilers for the 1962 AFL Championship.
The next year he took an offensive end coaching position at CAL and moved to the other sideline of the big game rivalry between Stanford and Cal, Ghilotti spent 5 seasons coaching the Golden Bears of Cal. Ghilotti worked with All-American Quarterback Craig Morton, as well as standout receivers Wayne Stewart and Jerry Bradley.
He retired from coaching football so that he could focus on spending time with his wife and three daughters while developing a real estate career and managing the Ghilotti family business in the Central Valley.
He is survived by his three daughters Mary Lynn, Lee Ann, and Joan; as well as four grandsons, four granddaughters and one great grandson.
With many fond memories of friends and family at Lake Tahoe, a memorial will be held on June 2, at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church at 701 Mount Rose Hwy in Incline Village at 11:00 AM. Notes of sympathy can be sent to The Ghilotti Sisters, 13867 Otis Place, Poway, CA 92064.