Tribute to Bill Bidwill: Sole Owner of the Arizona Cardinals Dies at Age 88

Getty Arizona Cardinals owner Bill Bidwell

Bill Bidwill, the sole owner of the Arizona Cardinals passed away on October 2, 2019. He was 88.

The Cardinals were the first to report the news on Twitter. The NFL team tweeted, “It is with great sadness that our owner, Bill Bidwill, has passed away today at the age of 88.” Before Bidwill owned the Cardinals, it was owned by his father, who bought the team in 1932. Bidwill’s wife Nancy, who passed away in August 2016, but the American businessman is survived by his five children, Bill Jr. Michael, Nicole, Patrick, and Tim, along with his 10 grandchildren.

In an official statement, Cardinals President Michael Bidwill wrote,

“Our dad passed away today the same way he lived his life: peacefully, with grace, dignity and surrounded by family and loved ones. We are overwhelmed by the support our family has received, not only now but throughout the latest chapter of his life. We are especially grateful to the nurses, doctors and other caregivers whose endless kindness and compassion in recent years have made our dad’s life so meaningful. Above all else, we will remember him as a man devoted to the three central pillars of his life – his immense faith, his love for his family and his life-long passion for the Cardinals and the sport of football.”

Bidwill was Adopted as a Child

Born on July 31, 1931, in Chicago, Illinois, he was adopted by parents Charles and Violet Bidwill. For high school he attended Georgetown Preparatory School, an all-boys Jesuit academy located in Bethesda, Maryland, where he was later inducted into the prestigious school’s athletic Hall of Fame in 2016.

Bidwill stayed in the Washington, D.C. area to earn his undergraduate degree at Georgetown University, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he served until 1956. That year, he returned to Chicago to help out with family business, which included managing the Cardinals, which at the time, was based in Illinois from 1920 to 1959.

Bidwill took over managing the Cardinals franchise full-time when the team moved to St. Louis in 1960, and officially inherited the team, along with his brother, Charles Jr., after his mother Violet died in 1962. In 1972, Bidwill bought out his brother’s shares, and moved the Cardinals’ home to Arizona in 1988.

GettyArizona Cardinals owners Michael (left) and Bill Bidwill

Ensuring the Cardinals stayed as a family, along with his son Michael, Bidwill initiated the construction of the new State Farm Stadium, which officially opened in 2006.

Cardinals’ Veteran WR Larry Fitzgerald Honors Bidwill with Draft Day Throwback Picture

Larry Fitzgerald was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in 2004, a third overall pick out of Pittsburgh, and to honor Bidwill’s passing, the wide-receiver, the rare athlete who’s played for one team throughout his entire career, posted a throwback photo from that life-changing Draft Day.

Fitzgerald, 36, posted the picture on Twitter and wrote, “The NFL family lost a pioneer today. Bill Bidwill loved the Arizona Cardinals and the great State of Arizona. He paved the way for so many by being on the forefront of giving minorities the opportunity to thrive as coaches and executives in the NFL… He was also a man of quiet generosity giving of his time and resources to make lives better. I’ll always remember the opportunity he gave me to live my dream in the NFL. Rest in peace, Mr. B.”

Former Arizona QB Kurt Warner’s Heartfelt Tribute to Bidwill

Former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner with Michael Bidwill

The Arizona Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history in 2008, but lost out to the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-23. The team’s star quarterback at the time, Kurt Warner, who’s since retired from the NFL, only had the best things to say about Bidwell after learning of his passing.

Warner said, “My greatest memories of Mr. B were when he would come join us for lunch after practice. Sometimes he’d just walk through. Other times he’d take a seat, or if he was on his own I’d seek him out and ask him questions and talk to him and ask him to share stories with me. He loved sharing old stories about football and about the organization. That was fun.”

“I felt like in that 2008 (Super Bowl) run,” Warner continued, “I felt like he was more a part of things than before or even a little after. He understood how special that turning of the corner was. To get to know him not just as the owner of the team but as an individual and I got to hear him through his voice. I enjoyed that.”

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