Air Force is today mourning the loss of one of the most beloved players in the football program’s history.
The service academy confirmed Tuesday that Dee Dowis was killed in a vehicle accident in Gwinnett City., Ga., Monday. Dowis was 48 years old, and is survived by his wife Tracie and two children.
Dowis was a three-year letterman and graduated from the Academy in 1990.
“I don’t have adequate words to describe what a personal loss this is for me,” Dowis’ head coach, Fisher DeBerry, told the Colorado Springs Gazette. “It’s a sad day for Falcon football. I’m sure so many people who enjoyed watching him play feel as empty as I do today. …
“I am shocked. So saddened. My heart’s broken. It bleeds for Tracie and Madeline and Grant, Dee’s mother and family and for all our Falcon brothers. What a legacy he leaves for all of us and what it means to be a wonderful husband, devoted father, a Christian businessman and leader like he was. But he has secured his eternal home and one day we’ll be able to relive a lot of those Falcons days that we all had together.”
Dowis came to the Falcons as a 150-pound quarterback in the mid-eighties and left as the academy’s all-time leading rusher with 3,612 yards rushing, a record that still remains. His sixth-place finish in the 1989 Heisman Trophy voting is the highest finish ever for a Falcon, and made him one of three service academy players to finish that high in the voting since Roger Staubach of Navy took home the honor in 1963.
The season that led to that finish, 1,286 yards rushing and 1,285 passing, marked just the fifth time a player had topped 1,000 yards both passing and rushing in the same season. In 2009, Dowis was a member of the second class inducted into the Air Force Athletic Hall of Fame.
One of Dowis’ teammates during his time at the Academy was Troy Calhoun, the Falcons’ current head football coach. Obviously, Dowis’ passing had a significant impact on the coach.
“He was the most electric, dynamic and exciting football player probably in the history of service academy football, ever. And yet a better person,” Calhoun told the Gazette. “You just knew he was going to be quite, quite accomplished no matter what he did. Hands down the nicest and most humble human being, period.”