Nov. 23, 1930 – Feb. 25, 2018
A knee injury couldn't keep George Voskerchian off the football field.
“He was a very quick running back,” his niece, Adele, said. “It didn’t stop him, but it hindered him from going further.”
The injury happened while he was attending the University at Buffalo on a football scholarship. Mr. Voskerchian recovered and kept playing, and he continued competing on the wrestling team.
After graduating in 1954 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, he played semi-pro football with the Lancaster Pros and a team called the Buffalo Bills that pre-dated the city’s American Football League entry.
When his playing days ended, Mr. Voskerchian stayed on the gridiron as a referee, officiating in the Western New York High School Football League for 38 years.
He also worked the sidelines at college football games for eight years and at high school swimming meets. He retired in 1998, after he worked his last Buffalo Public Schools Harvard Cup championship game.
Mr. Voskerchian died Feb. 25 in Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He was 87.
Born in Buffalo, the oldest of three boys, he was a star athlete in track and football at Bennett High School.
After college, Mr. Voskerchian worked in pharmaceutical sales . He then spent more than 20 years as regional sales representative for Griffin Pipe Products and U.S. Concrete Pipe Products, for items used in major construction projects. He retired in 1999.
He also was partner with his brother, Jerry, in Voskerchian’s Restaurant on Delaware Avenue at Delham Avenue in North Buffalo from 1968 to 1981.
In retirement, he worked part-time in the office for the Amherst Highway Department.
Active as a supporter of sports at UB, he was a member of the Blue & White Club and the Grey Bulls Club. He also served as a host for game officials who were working UB football games. He was president of the UB Alumni Association in 1975-76 and chaired the UB Alumni and Friends Golf Outing.
In 1999, Mr. Voskerchian was the first to receive UB’s Russell J. Gugino Award, which honors alumni for significant contributions to the athletic programs. He was inducted into the Bennett High School Athletic Hall of Fame and was part of the inaugural class inducted into the Harvard Cup Hall of Fame. The Western New York Chapter of the State Association of Certified Football Officials made him an honorary life member.
Mr. Voskerchian also was active in the community. He was a director of March of Dimes in Western New York, president of the Greater Buffalo Advertising Club and a member of the Masons, the Shriners and the Lions Club of Buffalo. He also served on the Amherst Recreation Board.
A longtime Amherst resident, he was unsuccessful in three bids for public office. He was a candidate for the Sweet Home School Board in 1965, ran for the Amherst Town Board in the early 1970s and, in 1982, received the Democratic endorsement to challenge incumbent Republican Assemblyman Bill Paxon.
He served for many years with the 27th Armored Division of the New York National Guard, attaining the rank of first sergeant. An Eagle Scout as a boy, he later was a Boy Scout leader.
Survivors include two brothers, Joseph and Jerry, plus his nieces and nephews.
A funeral service was held on March 2 at the Amigone Funeral Home, 2600 Sheridan Drive, Town of Tonawanda.