Patrice Henderson (1972)
Former Chicago Bear and Stanford Athletic Hall of Famer, Roger Stillwell died Sunday, Feb. 19th, 2006 at his home in Novato: thought you might want to check your archives and do a piece on Roger. Roger was 54 years old.
Much beloved son, father, brother, uncle and friend Roger Howard Stillwell, was Promoted to Glory on February 19, 2006.
Born November 17, 1951 in Santa Monica, CA to Lt. Col. Howard and Jerri Stillwell. He moved to Novato in 1969 after graduating from high school in Falls Church, VA. Roger's faith, compassion, generosity and kind heart were an inspiration to his family. He lived his life with integrity and bravery always looking to Jesus Christ, his Lord and Savior for hope and strength.
Roger was born into an Air Force family, and lived in many unique places including Japan, Hawaii, Alabama, Virginia, and Marin County.
Roger was a gifted athlete who excelled at every sport. In high school he lettered in baseball, basketball, and football, and was offered college scholarships in all three sports. During high school, his football team in Falls Church Virginia played against the Titans of Alexandria Virginia, who later became the subject of the movie, "Remember the Titans."
After high school Roger joined the United States Air Force and completed his basic training at Lackland AFB in Texas. Immediately following basic training he was transferred to the Air Force Academy Prep School in Colorado Springs, Colorado where he played football for one year.
Roger went on to play football at Stanford University, where he became a first team All American two years in a row. He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1975, where he opened his career as the starting defensive end for a team that included the legendary Walter Payton, who was drafted the same year as Roger. He was a member of the Bears for four years, until a devastating knee injury cut his career short.
In 1985, Roger and Jim Otto of the Oakland Raiders were the subject of an HBO presentation called "Disposable Heroes." Both men were severely disabled by their football injuries.
Roger coached football at Novato High School during the mid 1980's. As much as he loved football itself, he loved his players far more. He was always encouraging them praying with them and supporting them in any way he could. It was important to him that the players had the right equipment for their safety. If a player couldn't afford cleats or a neck roll, he would provide them.
Roger was recently elected to Stanford University's Athletic Hall of Fame, an honor that touched him deeply. Many family members attended the ceremony, which took place at the Stanford/USC football game on November 9, 2002.
He was active in Christian ministry for many years. During his playing career he often spoke for Fellowship of Christian Athletes events. He later joined the pastoral staff for Open Door Christian Church in Petaluma. He was a dynamic preacher and particularly loved his involvement in men's groups.
Roger spent many hours with his son Brett, and with his nieces and nephews. When they were younger he often took them all fishing and hunting for lizards at IVC. He provided them with continual encouragement and direction. Often he would write them handwritten letters, which they all cherish. His values and compassion live on in each of them.
Roger was a voracious reader, was always lending books to almost everyone. He was nearly finished with the process of writing a book about his life in football when he died.
Surviving are his son, Brett Sterling Stillwell and fiancees Bethany Moellers of Petaluma, his mother, Jerri Stillwell, sister Diane Searle and husband Ken, sister Carol Wise and husband Tom as well as eight nieces and nephews, Jason Searle, Amy Searle, Kendra Searle, Teresa Wise-Seratt and her husband John, Andrew Wise, Paul Wise, David Wise, and Anna Wise.