Eugene T. Rossides ’49, LAW’52, Lions Football Legend, Prominent Attorney

Eugene T. Rossides ’49, LAW’52, a star quarterback who led the Lions to an exciting victory over Army in 1947 and became an attorney who served two Presidents, died on May 16, 2020. He was 92 and lived in Washington, D.C.

Rossides, whose middle name was Telemachus, was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on October 23, 1927, to Greek and Cyprian immigrants. He was an outstanding passer and runner at Erasmus Hall H.S. a decade after Sid Luckman ’39 played there. Rossides recalled that Luckman told him,“‘You go play for Lou Little at Columbia.’And that was it.” He turned down two full scholarships from other colleges and accepted a partial one from Columbia.

Rossides started as halfback in 1945 and scored five touchdowns against Cornell, resulting in a 34–26 win (a four-year letter-winner, Rossides still holds the school record for scoring during a single game). He switched to quarterback as a junior, after being tutored by Luckman in spring practices. Rossides and Lou Kusserow ’48 became known as the “Goal Dust Twins.”

Rossides’s star-making moment came when he led the Lions to a 21–20 victory over Army in October 1947; the Cadets had previously had a 32-game unbeaten streak and were unscored upon in four games. He also tied a single-game Columbia record set by Luckman and Paul Governali ’43 by completing 18 passes against Army. Rossides was selected by the New York Giants in the 10th round of the 1949 NFL draft, but instead accepted a scholarship to the Law School.

After serving in the Air Force at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio, Rossides began his legal career in the New York County District Attorney’s office, serving in the Rackets Bureau under legendary AG Frank Hogan CC 1924, LAW 1928. Rossides went into private practice, became active in Republican politics and spent two and a half years as an assistant to the undersecretary of the Treasury under President Eisenhower.

After heading Richard M. Nixon’s New York presidential campaign office, Rossides served as an assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Nixon administration, overseeing the Customs Service, the Secret Service and other agencies. In 1972, he established the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; he inducted the first women into the Secret Service that same year.

After returning to private practice, Rossides was a partner in the Manhattan firm Rogers & Wells. In the 1980s, he worked on the presidential election campaigns of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and published several books on Greece’s role in U.S. foreign policy and other related topics.

Rossides became a leading voice in the Greek-American community when he founded the American Hellenic Institute in Washington, D.C., in 1974. He was active in Greek and Cyprian causes and received numerous honors, including the Republic of Cyprus Presidential Exceptional Service Medal in 2016.

A stalwart alumnus and supporter of Lions football, Rossides was presented Columbia’s Medal for Excellence in 1972 and a John Jay Award for distinguished professional achievement in 1994. He was elected to the Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008 in the Former Male Student Athletes - Heritage Era category.

Rossides’s first marriage, to Eleanor Burcham, ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, Aphrodite (née Macotsin); daughters, Gale and Eleni; sons, Michael ’84 and Alexander; brother, Daniel ’50, GSAS’58; and seven grandchildren.

Read more about Rossides in The New York Times and on gocolumbialions. com, and view a conversation with him from The Next Generation Initiative.