As a high school and college football referee from 1950 to 1988, Chesterfield County resident Ray Beasley was known as “the No. 1 rules guy,” says one of his former colleagues. Another acolyte celebrates Beasley’s all-business approach to officiating.
Beasley, 99, a standout football player in high school and college, has finally been recognized for his career as a standout football official over four decades. Last month, he was presented with the 2022 Gold Flag Award by the Touchdown Club of Richmond. The award honors a college football official in Virginia who has demonstrated the highest level of integrity and sportsmanship during their career.
“It’s nice to know that you had respect of your fellow officials,” Beasley said during a recent interview. Beasley worked eight state high school championship games as a member of the Central Virginia Football Officials Association and was honored by the Southern Conference in 1973 and 1981 with the Silver Whistle Award recognizing the league’s top collegiate official.
The lead official of an officiating crew is the referee and is distinguished by wearing a white hat.
“He was probably the most renowned rules man we’ve ever had in high school, and he was as well in college,” said Ed Ryder, who received the Gold Flag Award in 2017. “Everybody revered him as the No. 1 rules man. When 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 administer that type of responsibility.”
Beasley took officiating seriously.
“I worked hard at it,” he said. “I studied the rules, and I really worked hard at it.”
Rudy Ward, former Highland Springs head football coach and past president of the Touchdown Club of Richmond, had high praise for Beasley.
“Well he was sort of the founding father of a lot of really top-flight officials in the area,” Ward said. “All these guys have other jobs, but you would never know it, because they worked so hard at the profession of officiating and that was one of the things that Ray really stipulated. He was a teacher, but he really was a professional and taught those guys to be professionals. He was the guy that set the standard.”
Tommy Giles Sr., 86, was one of Beasley’s pupils and was a high school and college football official for 52 years.
“He knew what his job was,” Giles said of Beasley. “He didn’t take any foolishness. I don’t know if anybody could reach the level of Ray Beasley. I tried, but I don’t think I ever got there.”
Beasley was a running back for the 1940 John Marshall High School state championship team that was undefeated, untied and unscored-on.
The youngest of six children in a South Richmond family, Beasley said he decided to forego college and marry his high school sweetheart, Alice Lipscomb. “Some of the schools were offering 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’d work different shifts, and my wife worked downtown at Miller & Rhoads. We were having a terrible time seeing each other.”
Beasley said he decided shift work at DuPont’s Spruance Plant was not for him. “I gave them my two weeks notice and I told Alice I was going to go to college,” he said.
Beasley said he joined some of his high school buddies and enrolled at Virginia Tech. However, his college football career was interrupted 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 that played in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
Upon graduation, Beasley was recruited by C&P Telephone Company and finished his nearly four-decade career as a district manager in charge of directory operations.
Beasley began officiating high school football games in 1950, and during the latter part of his career on the field he moved solely into working college games until hanging up his whistle in 1988.
“I spent a lot of time doing that, but I enjoyed that. And I think I’m alive today because, on the way home from work, I’d stop at the University of Richmond and run the track, and I did that 12 months out of the year, not just during football season,” he said.
He and Alice had a son, Douglas, who is deceased, and a daughter, Janet, and three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Alice died in 2018.
After their children were grown, Beasley said, Alice would accompany him on some of his collegiate officiating trips.
“My wife could go with me on the weekends,” he said. “We’d go to Georgia, or South Carolina or West Virginia and some place like that and it would be nice.”
Of all of the calls he made as an official on the football field, Beasley said none were greater than “the calls” he made to marry Alice and to go to college.
“That’s right,” he said.
Beasley will turn 100 on April 22. ¦