Mason Lee “Red” Cashion, Jr.

Mason Lee “Red” Cashion Jr.
November 10, 1931 – February 10, 2019

Red Cashion, beloved husband of Marie Elaine Cashion, passed away on February 10, 2019. Red, a retired NFL referee, was best known for his famous “FIRST DOOOOWWWNN” call, sent out over national television screens in an instantly recognizable Brazos Valley drawl.

Red’s connection with the Brazos Valley began at birth: he was born on the Texas A&M Campus on November 10, 1931, where his father was the Secretary of the YMCA – a time when faculty was housed on the A&M Campus. Growing up on campus, Red made his first income letting Aggies arriving at Campus on the train “rent” his little red wagon to haul their luggage to the dormitories. Red always rode on top of the luggage!

Red grew up in a household where the plaque on the wall said, “Christ is the Head of this House. The unseen guest at every meal. The silent listener to every conversation,” Red lived that plaque. He lived a Christ-centered life and chose to live that life in the Brazos Valley. He spent many years as a member and elder at A&M Presbyterian Church, which his father helped to start, and later in life was a deacon at First Baptist Church of Bryan. Recently, Red and Marie have been members of A&M United Methodist Church.

After graduating from A&M Consolidated High School in 1949, Red attended Texas A&M on a baseball scholarship, graduating in May of 1953, at which time he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. (Red’s older brother Jimmie was the Texas A&M football quarterback, something that football card makers never did get straight: the card manufacturers always credited Red on football cards for Jimmie’s quarterback role at A&M, but Red never played football for A&M.) Red left the Army after four years, spending most of that four years around Washington, DC, and Fort Meade, where he served with the NSA. He was recalled during the Cuban Missile Crisis and briefed President Kennedy in 1963, something that he did not admit to even his family until just a few years ago.

Red has had a lifetime relationship with Texas A&M. It was a huge honor for Red that Texas A&M named the football officials’ locker room after him in 2003 (“Red Cashion Officials’ Dressing Room” at the North End of Kyle Field). As well, Red has been honored as a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumni (2003), Mays Business School Outstanding Alumni (2006), Fish Camp Namesake, a former member of the President’s Council, the 1990 main campus Muster Speaker, and at the time of his passing, Red was a member of the 12th Man Foundation Champions Council and a member of the Corps of Cadets Development Council. Red also served as a guest professor of insurance at Texas A&M. Red was active over the years in many different parts of University life: one of his favorites, which he Chaired up until his death, was The Association of Former Students’ Student Loan Trustee Committee.

Raising a family in Bryan-College Station during the 1960s and 1970s, Red started in business with his father-in-law, Hershel Burgess, and Red’s best friend from rival high school days, Dick Haddox (a Navasota Rattler). Their insurance business, Burgess, Cashion & Haddox, eventually merged with and became ANCO Insurance, which survives and thrives today. Red served as Chairman Emeritus for many years at ANCO.

Red’s father-in-law also got Red interested in officiating football, and Red started officiating junior high school games while he was still in college. Beginning as a line judge in 1972, Red joined the National Football League, moving to the referee’s position in 1976, and eventually officiated Super Bowls XX and XXX, while serving as an alternate in two more. All told, Red served 25 years in the NFL, officiated over 500 games and 17 additional post-season assignments, was President of the Professional Referees Association and on its Executive Board for 10 years, was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1999, was named the NFL Referees Association Honoree in 2011, and received the Art McNally Award in 2015 (awarded at the Pro Bowl and given to an NFL game official who exhibits exemplary professionalism, leadership, and commitment to sportsmanship, on and off the field). For many years after leaving the field, Red was the referee’s voice on John Madden’s video football game Madden NFL. Red remained on the NFL payroll as a trainer of NFL referees until 2014, training new NFL referees in the art of keeping the game interesting and exciting. Since his last NFL retirement, he has continued to work with “his” referees on a volunteer basis. His family is so grateful for the calls and visits from his NFL friends during the last few months, as well as the many wonderful friends and neighbors who have been so supportive.

For a man who spent so many years traveling that he had lifetime platinum cards on multiple airlines, Red’s heart never left the Brazos Valley. He has a lifetime of awards for efforts on behalf of the communities of the Brazos Valley, including Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce in 1964, Chairman of the Brazos County Industrial Foundation, Chairman of the Brazos County Association of Independent Insurance Agents, Chairman of the Region VI Education Service Center, Brazos County Volunteer of the Year in 1972, and Brazos County Citizen of the Year in 1994, presented to Red that year by President George H.W. Bush. Until just a few years ago, Red rang the bell and collected for the Salvation Army every Christmas.

Red is survived by his beloved wife, Marie Elaine Cashion, his children and their spouses, James H. & Mary Cashion, Sharon L. Cashion, Joyce & Bicker W. Cain III, and Shelley & Robert I. White. In addition, Red is survived by his six grandchildren, Caitlin & Joel Stibbe, Colter L. & Erica Cashion, Mason H. Cashion, J. Marshall Cashion, Cashion & Leslie Cain and Bicker W. Cain IV & Jennifer Cain, and four great-grandchildren, Maura & Thomas Stibbe, and Alexandra & Sophia Cain. In addition, Red is survived by his sister-in-law, Lila D. Cashion and her four children and their spouses, Paul & Jenny Cashion, Marilyn & Stan Speegle, Emily & Joe Endres, and Timothy & Teresa Cashion, and seven grandchildren, Andrew, Philip & Adam Cashion, Jeep & Vendie Endres, and Erin & Neal Cashion. Red had a special relationship with Marie’s niece and her husband, Monica and Schoen Maekawa, and nephew, Michael Echavez.

Red was predeceased by his loving wife of 47 years, Lou Burgess Cashion, his brother and hero, James T. Cashion, his parents, Mason Lee “Cash” and Winnie (Blakeley) Cashion, Sr., and his best friend and partner of over 50 years, Dick Haddox.

Special mention must be made of Red’s loyal caregivers, Russ Kilpatrick and Janeen & Don Wood, the wonderful medical professionals at Hospice Brazos Valley, the loving caregivers at The Parc at Traditions, and his and Marie’s long-time housekeeper, Tania Salazar.

A celebration of Red’s life will take place at 10:00 a.m. Monday, February 18, 2019 at A&M United Methodist Church. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Callaway-Jones.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in memory of Red to, A&M United Methodist Church, 417 University Dr. College Station, TX 77840, Texas A&M 12th Man Foundation, PO Box 2800 College Station, TX 77841, Texas A&M Student Loan Fund (Association of Former Students), 505 George Bush Dr. College Station, TX 77840, Hospice Brazos Valley, 502 W. 26th Street Bryan, TX 77803, CHI St. Joseph Regional Health Center, 2801 Franciscan Drive Bryan, TX 77802.

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  1. Red was a great guy and will be missed by all who had the joy to know him.
    Rest In Peace my officiating brother.
    My prayers that God give the family in this time of loss.
    In Christian love
    Roy Kimberlin DFOA LIFE MEMBER

  2. The loss of Red Cashion will be very deep! My Dad & I wish to offer our condolences to his entire family and friends… was a great joy to get to know not just my childhood hero but the wonderful man he was. He will always be a part of my parents & my great memories…God bless him and his family always.

  3. As a rather poor Aggie I ran into Red Cashion while washing my car at his old coin car wash while I was a student at A&M back in 73-77. We hit it off well and for the next three years I worked for Red taking care of that business. He was always such a nice guy and always treated me with encouragement and trust. I looked him up about 15 years later and introduced him to my family. He remembered me well and we had a nice visit. He was an inspiration to those who knew him and so sorry to hear of his passing. Deepest regrets for his family.

  4. Red Cashion was a very dear friend and gift that God shared with all of us. Sandy and I and our boys, Matthew and Michael, were honored to have a special relationship with Red and his family and cherish the many years we spent in the Brazos Valley. As a dedicated volunteer, community leader and inspirational friend, Red touched the lives of so many people and had a deep passion for helping others. Thank you Red for making such an impact on all of us and for sharing your passion for life and volunteer service. We know the Lord and the Sisters of St. Francis are enjoying those special FIRST DOOWWNNN moments with you now. God bless you Red for teaching all of us to remember what is important …living life to the fullest, helping others and making the world a better place. May peace and every blessing be with the Cashion family. Gig ‘Em.

  5. Red was newly retired from the NFL when I met him at a NFL Alumni Golf Tournament at Sugar Creek CC in Sugar Land back in the 90’s.

    I was a young Referee in the Houston Chapter who had been conscripted to serve as a Marshall for this tournament. I also had my young son, Jeffrey, with me.

    During the course of the afternoon, a horrendous thunderstorm blew in and Red and his golf group came driving past and saw that Jeff and I was in peril.

    Red looked over at my young son and quipped, “Well Dad! He’s a heck of a lot better looking than you are! Think I’ve got room in here for him to ride up to the clubhouse! You’re on your own!”

    Jeff crawled up into the golf cart with Red, smiling to beat the band, then Red winked at me, smiled and then winked at me, saying “Well, if it don’t flood, I’ll come back out here and pick you up!”

    Needless to say, Red returned and retrieved me, although I was absolutely saturated from the downpour!

    We had dinner there at the club that evening and developed a fast friendship! And Jeff, well he had himself a new hero!

    That one act of kindness and gratitude cemented the kind of Christian gentlemen that he always was!

    And that young boy he picked up that day? Well he’s busy reffing college football now!

    Thanks, Red! We’ll miss you!

    Keith and Jeffrey Kimmel

  6. Red was a great NFL referee and a better Aggie. Having breakfast with Red and talking about the “good old days” at A&M and his many stories about being a ref was great fun. I’ll miss him. God bless Red and his family.

  7. Not only was it a privilege to have worked with Red for a number of years, I was also blessed to know him as a mentor and friend. He had a very positive impact on my life for which I am very grateful.
    My condolences to his family. May they find comfort in their many happy memories of Red.

  8. I am sorry to learn of Mason Lee’s passing. He left a great hole in your lives I am sure. I always pointed him out to my friends and very proudly said, “I’m related to him!” My Dad named me Mary LEE and I always wondered where the Lee came from. Dad must have thought an awful lot of his brother, “Red’s” dad.
    Please know that I will be thinking of you and praying for you in this difficult time.

  9. Sorry for your loss. Was lucky enough to meet “Red” in person several times. He never got to ref a Panther game so I never saw him in live action. My prayers are with you.

  10. Sharon,
    I was speaking of your Dad after that awful “not” call in the Saints game.
    I was wondering what he thought of that.
    So sorry for your loss.

  11. Dear Cashion Family:

    My condolences to you all on Red’s passing. What a special individual and example of a life well lived. I was so pleased to be able to visit with him briefly last December. May the Lord bring you comfort and peace. All my love, Rhonda

  12. Dear Cashion Family,
    The family of Bud and Mary Vail wish to pass along their condolences . We fondly remember hearing stories about happy times our parents shared together, back when they were young and strong, full of hope and vigor. Their story started at A&M (where many good stories start) where they were working toward their degrees. They quickly became close friends, so much so that my parents asked Red and Lou to be my Godparents. How grateful we are for over 60 years of friendship .
    May similar memories of happy times in your family’s life help sustain you through this difficult time.

  13. Dear Cashion Family Please accept my deepest sympathy in the passing of a very
    dear man. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you as you lay this great man
    to rest. He leaves behind a wealth of terrific memories.

    Gob Bless
    Carmel Baker

  14. Dear Cashion Family,

    We have great memories of your father including riding on the back of that old fire truck. He was always very kind to us and we know he brought a lot of joy to many people.

    You are in our thoughts and prayers.

  15. I am sure that in the immediate future there will be many who speak and write of Red’s earthly journey of service and exceptional accomplishment in business, officiating and in the lives of others. One of Red’s mantras and encouragement to others was: “All of us are a little better than we think we are”. Red was good friends with many and he brought out the best in those around him and truly had a part in helping us “be better than we think we are” in our worldly endeavors.

    I am reminded that considering “being better than we think we are” – the Holy Scriptures tell us “there are none righteous, no not one” and “we all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God”. Red knew this and at an early age put his trust in Christ. Out of all the words that will be said about Red, saying and knowing that his Faith was In Christ – are the most important.
    As we know that “for by Grace we have been saved through Faith and not that of ourselves, it is the gift of God, “

    Red knew and accepted this sacrificial gift made by Jesus Christ for his and our sins. Do you have this Faith and Peace that Red had?

    David Smith

  16. I was just a year younger than Red. My brother (Dick Birdwell and his wife (Joyce Patranella Birdwell) went to school with Red and Lou Burgess Cashion. I spent a lot of time with them. I was really excited when Red became a referee and then head referee for the NFL. We used to follow him his full career. Red came to my brother’s Celebration of Life and made a special effort to come to talk with me. We held a Celebration of Life for Joyce Dec 10th (Her Birthday) and Red did not make it. Prayers for his family. He led a fabulous life of 87 years. You should be so proud.

  17. As I was growing up watching NFL games on TV, Red Cashion was my favorite referee. I always hoped he would officiate a game I could watch on our small TV.
    He is greatly missed.