April 15, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Bernie Flowers, as loyal and true a Boilermaker as ever there has been, passed away Thursday night. He was 81.
A native of Erie, Pa., Flowers was a three-year football letterwinner at Purdue from 1950 to 1952. He earned consensus All-America honors as a senior end after setting school records with 43 receptions for 603 yards and seven touchdowns. The Boilermakers were Big Ten Conference co-champions in 1952.
Flowers' breakout performance came Oct. 25, 1952, in Purdue's first-ever nationally televised game, when he had six catches for 87 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-12 victory at Illinois.
He was inducted into the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.
Flowers played professionally in the Canadian Football League - earning All-Pro honors with the Ottawa Roughriders in 1953 - and the National Football League with the Baltimore Colts in 1956. In between, he served in the military and was named to the All-Navy Sea Service teams in 1954 and 1955.
Following his playing days, Flowers embarked on a successful career in life insurance in Lafayette, Ind. Over the last six years, he spearheaded recruiting efforts for Joe Tiller/Northwest Indiana Chapter of the National Football Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes amateur football.
Born Benjamin Bernard Kwiatkowski, Flowers is survived by his wife, Adele, and five children - all Purdue graduates. Bernie and Adele maintained residents in Lafayette and Bonita Springs, Fla. He was a member of the John Purdue Club for the last 47 years and was legendary for having a hamburger (topped with Spanish lettuce, tomato, onion and mayonnaise) named in his honor at the Triple XXX Restaurant here.
A memorial service will be held April 20 at St. Mary's Cathedral in Lafayette beginning at 10:30 a.m.