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Legendary referee and officials coordinator Darrell 'Bozo' Wincek dies after cancer battle

Wincek helped establish the Gopher State Officials Association, which has grown from 6 referees and umpires to nearly 500.
Credit: Michelle Schneider
Legendary referee and officials scheduler Darrell 'Bozo' Wincek, who was followed into officiating by daughters Michelle (L) and Jacki (R).

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — The Minnesota sports community is remembering longtime referee and officials coordinator Darrell "Bozo" Wincek. 

Wincek passed away this week at the age of 82 after battling bladder cancer.
His daughter Michelle told Randy Shaver that Darrell earned the nickname Bozo as a young kid, and it stuck.

He was a charter member of the Gopher State Officials Association, which Darrell helped establish in 1963. In the years since the officiating group has grown from six officials to 481 refereeing and umpiring games in football, basketball, baseball and softball. 

"We lost a great man, an awesome man, a man of great character, purpose, and passion, as well as a true friend," read a letter sent out to members of the association Tuesday. 

Credit: Michelle Schneider
Darrell 'Bozo' Wincek reffed his last high school football game in 2011, but was active in scheduling officials until the week he died of cancer at the age of 82.

Wincek was inducted into the Minnesota High School League Hall of Fame in 2015. Here are just a few additional high points of his distinguished career of service. 

  • 1988 - MSHSL - 30 Years as an Official
  • 1995 – Elected to the USSSA Softball Hall of Fame
  • 1996 – MN State HS Coaches Association – Distinguished Service Award
  • 2008 - Elected to the Eastside Old-Timers Hall of Fame
  • 2008 - MSHSL - 40 Years as an Official
  • 2012 – Elected to the MN State Football Coaches Hall of Fame
  • 2014 - Gopher Officials Association was selected by MSHSL as the Association of Excellence Winner

"A legend in Minnesota prep sports...and I don't say that lightly," Randy wrote in a tribute to Bozo for his Prep Sports Extra show. "Just a great advocate for Minnesota prep sports and a wonderful man, husband, father and friend."

"Minnesota sports lost a legend this week....truly one-of-a-kind."