Pascal wins college football games, senatorial races
Bob Pascal has served in the Maryland state senate, run for governor and been a member of the Governor's Cabinet.
For the past 35 years, he has also owned and run his own business, United Petroleum, which is currently ranked in the top 50 in the country for oil businesses of its size.
All of his success, he says, would not have been possible if Duke University did not take a risk on a kid from the sidewalks of New Jersey.
"Duke took a chance on me," Pascal said. "We had a great coaching staff that made a profound influence on my life--they really hung with me or I would have never graduated or stayed in school. They literally took me under their wings."
This weekend, Pascal will add to his long list of honors when he is inducted into the Duke Sports Hall of Fame for his efforts on the Duke football team between 1954 and 1956.
"As you get older, you appreciate things differently and a little more," Pascal said. "It's a very select group of men and women, and might be the highlight of my collegiate career."
During his first year on the football squad, Pascal helped lead the Blue Devils to the 1955 Orange Bowl, where they defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers 34-7. Pascal was the team's leading rusher in that game, tallying 91 yards on just nine carries.
Yet the New Year's Day bowl victory wasn't the game Pascal cited as his most memorable. That game would come the next year, against the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus.
During that era, Ohio State was coached by the legendary Woody Hayes and starred back Hopalong Cassidy. The No. 11 Blue Devils knew they would have a tough time with the bigger, stronger No. 14 Buckeyes. Yet the Blue Devils pulled off the 20-14 win, beating one of the top college football teams of the 1950s.
"It was a real hot October day and they got tired," Pascal recalled. "We were much smaller than they were, but we had a heck of a lot more stamina."
Those first two seasons, Pascal led the Blue Devils in rushing, gaining 561 yards in 1954 and 751 yards in 1955. Those two seasons, he also led Duke in scoring, running for 10 touchdowns the first year and eight in the next year.
Even with all of the accomplishments from his first two seasons, Pascal received most of his attention during his senior year, when he garnered not only team MVP honors, but also first-team All-American accolades.
Yet it wasn't the individual honors that Pascal highlighted when discussing his Duke football career. Instead, he talked about the team's effort, and how during his three years on the squad, the Blue Devils never lost to North Carolina or any other of the state's Big Four schools.
"Beating Carolina is always an event," Pascal said with a hearty laugh. "You never get tired of that."
Pascal was drafted by the Baltimore Colts, but he spurned the National Football League to play in Canada. He played there for only one year before starting his own business in Baltimore. Pascal has put his economics degree from Duke to good use, running a successful business while dabbling in real estate and banking.
At the same time, Pascal decided to enter the world of politics. He has served as a Maryland state senator, a county executive and he was the Republican candidate for governor of Maryland in 1982. From 1989-94, he was a member of the governor's cabinet, helping make executive appointments such as judges.
While his affairs in business and politics keep Pascal on the run, he still finds time to come back to Durham every once in a while, remaining involved in the Duke Center for Living. Pascal credits the staff there for helping him lose weight, and most likely prolonging his life.
When looking back at his experiences, Pascal considers his time with the Blue Devils one of his life's greatest experiences.
"It was probably the most exciting time of my life," Pascal said. "We were winning, playing major college football. Those friends that I made down there are still my friends. They are my friends for life."
But even more important than the friends he met was the ultimate goal of his time at Duke--his degree. It was a goal that seemed unreachable when he first entered Duke, but is now his proudest achievement.
"I struggled early," Pascal said. "Later on I improved dramatically.
"When people ask where you [went] to school, you raise your voice when you say `Duke'. You raise [the] name another octave or two. It's not a mumble, but a distinct word. That's what Duke means to me."