Photo Courtesy Buffalo Broadcasters Association
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Former AFL All-Star and Buffalo Bills all-time leader in yards per reception by a tight end, Ernie Warlick died last weekend. He was remembered as a man with big hands, a big personality and a loving husband, father and grandfather.
A memorial service was held on Tuesday at Randall Baptist Church in Williamsville. Former teammate Ed Rutkowski remembered him as a "big brother."
Booker Edgerson called Warlick "a leader" for his fierce stand during the 1960's when African-American football players refused to play in New Orleans.
Warlick played on the team from 1962-1965 standing out as one of the first tight ends designated as a receiver.
Warlick made Western New York his home after retiring from professional football. He and his wife Louise of 52-years, raised their three children in the area.
Dr. Chris Warlick remembered his father as loving. He opened by saying to everyone in the church, "Ernie is my dad!" He recalled his parents telling him, "with great privilege comes great responsibility."
He was also the first African-American personality to anchor sports on a Buffalo television newscast on WGR-TV (Channel 2) in the 1960s.
He would continue with the Bills franchise as a member of the Bills Alumni Association, earning him the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Distinguished Service Award in 2000.
Warlick was a member of the Bills 25th Anniversary team and continued to work with local youth groups after retiring.
His health had been deteriorating for the last 18 months and he had been in the hospital this past week.
Pastor Josh LaRavia told mourners, "we have suffered loss and that loss is very tangible, it's very real, it hurts. We have suffered the loss of a husband, the loss of a father, the loss of a grandfather, a friend, teammate and that's real, but we are not ones without hope."
Warlick was 82-years-old.