ROBERT J. BRIGHAM SR.
1924 - 2014
BORN
1924
DIED
2014
FUNERAL HOME
Anderson Funeral Home
2011 S. Fourth St.
Dekalb, IL
DeKALB – Dr. Robert Joseph Brigham Sr., 90, of DeKalb, Illinois, passed away Sunday, May 25, 2014, at Oak Crest DeKalb Area Retirement Center, DeKalb.
Born March 2, 1924, in Marion, Illinois, the son of Robert P. and Marie (Hayes) Brigham, Bob married Gertrude Cameron Fish on June 11, 1949, in Western Springs.
Bob graduated from Chicago Bowden High School, where he played fullback on the football team.
A World War II veteran, Bob served the U.S. Navy, surviving on submarines in the Pacific. He served as an electrician's mate between Feb. 24, 1943, and April 9, 1946, aboard at least three submarines, being transferred off the USS Wahoo just before it was sunk by enemy aircraft in October 1943, the USS Bream and the USS Baya. After leaving the service, Bob enrolled at Northern Illinois University, where he tried out for the football team as a freshman.
Although Bob was cut from the team by Coach George "Chick" Evans, he was not deterred. He returned a year later and eventually became the Huskies' starting fullback. As a member of the fabled "Pony Backfield," he was one of the best blocking backs in school history and left NIU as the school record holder in single-game in 1948, single-season in 1948 and career 1947-49 rushing yards. His single-game mark stood for 25 years until 1973. Bob finished his playing career as a three-year letter winner in football and lettered one season in wrestling.
After graduating from NIU with his bachelor's degree in education in 1949, Bob began his career in athletics as a football and wrestling coach at Tuscola High School. While coaching at Tuscola, he took graduate-level classes at the University of Illinois and earned his master's degree in 1951. He earned his doctorate from University of Indiana in 1963.
Bob's association with NIU, which began as a student athlete, continued for more than 50 years. He returned to the university as an assistant football coach in 1957; he was Huskies' head wrestling coach for 11 seasons and was the leader of the department from 1968-1987, taking NIU Athletics from NCAA College Division to University Division, or major college status; oversaw the Huskies' admission to the Mid-American Conference in 1973; enhanced NIU's athletics facilities; and saw multiple teams qualify for NCAA championship competition.
Many decisions Brigham made during his tenure as athletic director at NIU had a lasting effect on the university he loved.
In 1987, Brigham became special assistant to the president. In that role, he managed the university's compliance obligations until his retirement in 2001. Two years later, the playing surface at Huskie Stadium was named "Brigham Field" in his honor. He entered the NIU Physical Education Hall of Fame in 1987 and was inducted into the NIU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1989. In 1991, Brigham received the F. R. "Bud" Geigle Outstanding Service Award from the NIU Foundation.
In addition to his lifelong devotion to NIU and the Huskies, Brigham followed the Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears and enjoyed visiting with his family and friends in DeKalb. He also loved to play golf.
He is survived by his wife of 64 years, the former Gertrude Fish, a 1949 NIU graduate from Western Springs; and the couple's two grown sons, Robert Jr. (Alina) and David; four grandchildren, Samantha Homes, Vera, Ben and Alex Brigham; a great-grandchild, Mason Minnegan; and a sister, Georgia Colwell from Huntsville, Alabama.
Members of the community are invited to attend the funeral service for Dr. Brigham at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 4, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 830 N. Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb, with the Rev. Dr. Blake Richter officiating. Burial will follow at Fairview Park Cemetery, DeKalb, with full military honors by American Legion, AmVets and VFW. The visitation will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 3, at Anderson Funeral Home, DeKalb.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Dr. Robert J. Brigham Memorial Fund, sent in care of Anderson Funeral Home, P.O. Box 605, 2011 S. Fourth St., DeKalb, IL 60115.
For information, visit www.AndersonFuneralHomeLtd.com or call 815-756-1022.
Published by Daily Chronicle from May 27 to Jun. 5, 2014.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
May
27
Visitation
3:00p.m. - 8:00p.m.
Anderson Funeral Home
2011 S. Fourth St., Dekalb, IL
May
28
Funeral service
10:30a.m.
Westminster Presbyterian Church, 830 N. Annie Glidden Road, DeKalb
IL
May
28
Burial
Fairview Park Cemetery
DeKalb, IL
Funeral services provided by:
Anderson Funeral Home
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25 Entries
Dr. B was the walking definition of character and integrity when I was at NIU.
He gave the greatest acceptance speech I have ever heard at his Hall of Fame induction night. One of the finest men I have ever met.
Our deepest condolences to the family.
Tommy & Laurie Bell
June 4, 2014
Mrs. Brigham, My sympathy to all the family on the passing of your husband. He was a great man and an inspiration to all. You also have been a great teacher. You both left a legacy at NIU and the town of DeKalb. God bless your family and your many memories! DHS - class of 1966
Diana (nee Pearson) Kluz
June 4, 2014
Dr B was so patient and kind. As I learned to process the Athletic Scholarships at NIU, he gave me credit when I was correct, and only guidance when I wasn't. He was a great leader; his legacy will live on forever! Love you, Dr B! GO HUSKIES! God bless......Peace.
Paula (Lane) Ruff
June 3, 2014
Mrs. Brigham, My condolences on the passing of your husband. He was a fine man and an inspiration to so many. You also have been a great teacher and friend to many. My sister enjoyed having you as her tennis coach and my mother appreciated your friendship. Thank you.
Jeff Powell
June 3, 2014
sorry to get the phone call from you telling me he passed away call me some day linda756-2275
linda meyer
June 2, 2014
I extend my deepest sympathies and condolences to Gert, Bobby, David and the entire extended Brigham family on the passing of Bob, Sr. Dr. Bob was a giant among men, and I am among the so many on whom he had a profound influence. A great man, a great life and a great American! Forever Huskies!

BH
Bradley Hoey
June 1, 2014
Mrs. Brigham, Bob, and Dave, I was very saddened to hear of Dr. Brigham's passing and I extend my deepest sympathy. I have such great respect and admiration for Dr. Brigham and what his life has meant to NIU, DeKalb, and my family throughout the years. So many wonderful memories. God Bless.
Mike & Shawn Pheanis
May 31, 2014
Mrs, Brigham, Bob, David and families, I was saddened to learn of Dr. Bob's passing. He was a wonderful man, who truly was "NIU Athletics." I feel so blessed to have had the privilege of working with him during my tenure at NIU.
Michelle (Fogel) Lovell
May 31, 2014
My Dad and Bob worked together as the Field House was being built in the 1950's. I believe they both had a say in the design. They both helped coach football in the spring with Fletch. I remember Bob working out with the wrestling team, and how soaked his gray sweatshirt was. He was a role model coach/teacher/leader. His wife was the girl PE teacher at DHS while I was in school, and is such a fine lady. He always had kind words for me. Along with Dr. Dunn, he is the last of that era that built NIU. The Field House had a dirt service at the beginning. These coaches/teachers made future teachers/coaches successful. They cared. They were old-school. Bill Black
May 30, 2014
Dear Mrs. Brigham and Bob jr. and family:
We are saddened by your recent loss. May you find the loss that you now bear is lessened in some way by all the understanding thoughts that go to you today. May the love and concern of family and friends bring you comfort. May healing touch of time bring you brighter tomorrow.

Most sincerely,
Sam, Corinna and children
Doreen Lane Neighbor

Gainesville, Florida
May 30, 2014
Dear Brigham Family:
God bless you all in your time of grief. Mr. Brigham lived a wonderfully full life. Requiescat in pacem.
Stephan Japuntich
May 30, 2014
Our deepest sympathy for all of the family.
Diane Docking, Ralph Crafton
Ralph Crafton
May 30, 2014
Mrs. Brigham and Family: Please accept my condolences for your loss. Your husband /father was a fine man who did a great deal for NIU and their athletic program over the years. As a fellow DHS graduate with David and also an NIU grad., Mr. Brigham's memory will remain with me.
Bruce Flowers
May 29, 2014
Mrs. Brigham:
Please accept my thoughts and prayers on the loss of your husband. Fifty-seven years ago, during my sophomore year at DeKalb High School, you stood out as a very engaging and fair PE teacher with a great sense of humor. Your husband is a legend at Northern and all accolades being given now are well deserved. His contributions there will live on far beyond these generations. To you and your family, peace and sympathy.
Kathy Earley
May 29, 2014
Mrs. Brigham,
You were my much admired sophomore year PE teacher, class of '59, DHS. I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Brigham several times, both at your home and around NIU. My thoughts are with you.
Anita Bullington
May 29, 2014
Dear Brigham Family,
What a small world this internet makes. I am sorry for your loss and thanks to Peggy able to read about Bob's remarkable life. Will keep you in my prayers.
Pauline Jordan Wayne PA
May 29, 2014
AS A BOWEN HIGH CLASSMATE OF BOB'S BACK IN SOUTH CHICAGO HE WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED AS OUR FOOTBALL HERO.NOT MANY OF HIS CLASSMATES ARE STILL AROUND TO READ ABOUT BOB'S ACCOMPLISHMENTS DURING HIS LIFETIME BUT IT COMES AS NO SURPRISE . BOB WAS ALWAYS A WINNER.
I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER BOB AS MY HIGH SCHOOL FRIEND WHO THOUGHT I WAS AN OK GUY EVEN IF I WAS IN THE ROTC AND NOT IN SPORTS . DONALD PAGE BOWEN HIGH SCHOOL . CLASS OF '43
May 28, 2014
It was my privilege to work for Dr. Brigham when I first started in Huskie Athletics. I will be forever grateful for the kindness and support he gave me through the years we worked together. I will very much miss him.
Janaan Mickey
May 28, 2014
Peggy Vest Siegert
May 28, 2014
Dear Mrs. Brigham, a dear friend for many years from DeKalb, Jack Murray, sent me the sad news of your husband's passing. I have such wonderful memories of you as our PE teacher at Tuscola High School and wanted to express both Rudy's and my sincere sympathy to you and your family. With deepest respect, Rudy and Peggy (Vest) Siegert - Slidell LA
May 28, 2014
I was sadden to hear of Bob's passing. His wife was my gym teacher in high school and I would always talk to her at the NIU games. I had the pleasure of meeting Bob a couple of times with my dad, Eugene Wildey, and always enjoyed listening to what he had to say. The family will be in my prayers during this time of loss.
Debra Wildey-Sutter
May 28, 2014
So sorry for your families loss. Though I did not really know Dr. Brigham I will always appreciate him sharing his wife with us at DeKalb High School. She was a wonderful teacher and coach. Penny Davis Hansen, Class of '77
Penny Davis Hansen
May 28, 2014
I worked for Dr. Bob Brigham back in the late 50's and early 60's. What a gentleman! Have many good memories of him. My sympathy to all the family in your great loss. God Bless your memories.
Norma West Smith
May 28, 2014
Bob Brigham was a true ambassador for NIu. He truly cared about the university and everyone with whom he came in contact. His accomplishments are great and he will be missed. With love and respect, Mike and Kim Mallory
Mike & Kim Mallory
May 28, 2014
Dr. Bob was a tremendous asset to the University as a whole I truly appreciate how he help my career, Great Man! And that's Bowen High School
Robert Collins
May 27, 2014
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