Billy Vessels' ashes scattered at Owen Field

Saturday, September 11th 2004, 9:11 am

By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ The late Billy Vessels, University of Oklahoma's first Heisman Trophy winner, was a halfback who was no stranger to the end zone.

So that's where former teammates scattered his ashes Thursday afternoon at Owen Field. They also put some at midfield.

Vessels died in November 2001 at age 70. His widow, Susie Vessels, who lives in Coral Gables, Fla., asked his former Oklahoma teammate Dick Ellis, who was the best man at their wedding, to perform the ceremony.

Some of his ashes were also spread at his high school in Cleveland, Okla., and at Burning Tree Club in Bethesda, Md., a golf course Billy Vessels grew to love when he played for the Baltimore Colts.

Ellis said he got sentimental when he and other former teammates spread the ashes.

``You think you're just gonna go through the motions and get it done,'' said Ellis, an Oklahoma City resident who played and roomed with Vessels.

``But then when you start doing it, you start thinking about things. It brings back memories.''

Ellis said he and Vessels' other former teammates _ former quarterbacks Eddie Crowder and Claude Arnold and halfback Tommy Gray, along with Vessels longtime friend Lee Allan Smith _ reminisced about good times.

``They were Billy's very closest friends,'' Susie Vessels said by telephone Thursday evening. ``I just thought it was wonderful. I'm just so appreciative of them for doing that, because it would have pleased Billy very much.''

Ellis said it took about six months to get the former teammates schedules coordinated. He said they were glad to do it.

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