He was a local legend. Football referees aren't known for winning fans, but Jerry Lohmann was different. The 73-year-old, a high school football official and baseball umpire for decades in South Florida, suffered a heart attack last Friday during a game in Boca Raton and later died at the hospital.
The sudden passing of the longtime Belle Glade resident shocked the community and underscored how important he was to it. Lohmann, a certified public accountant, turned his love of sports into a passion, making sure athletes played by the rules. He was a zebra-striped fixture under the Friday night lights.
"He might do [fans'] tax returns the day before, but if they didn't like the call [he made on the field], they were going let him know about it," his son, Brian Lohmann, told WPTV in the segment above.
Appropriately, a goodbye to the senior Lohmann was held in a sporting venue. Hundreds filled a high school gymnasium Wednesday in Belle Glade to pay their respects, WPBF reported. Players who participated in games officiated by Lohmann wore their uniforms, and fellow refs wore theirs, too. Video shows attendees visibly moved.
"He died the way he wanted to die, doing something he loved doing," the Rev. David Broadbent said to the gathering.
Yahoo! called Lohmann "legendary."
David Campbell, president of the East Coast Football Officials Association, told the Palm Beach Post: "Anything you needed to do, he would do. He was a special guy."
Lohmann, a father and grandfather whose wife died in 2008, volunteered with the local Little League and youth football for more than 30 years, according to his Legacy obituary. He also served his community off the field, working as an auxiliary policeman for 20 years.
"God, you got a good one up there," fellow official Carlos Carles said at the memorial, as reported by WPBF. "Take care of him. I'm sure he'll be taking care of you."