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Obituaries

* Thelma Elkjer; Aide to Former NFL Chief Pete Rozelle

February 15, 2000

Thelma Elkjer, 77, a longtime aide to the late National Football League Commissioner Pete Rozelle who had a hand in determining the league's realignment in 1970. Born in Hampton, Neb., Elkjer met Rozelle when the two worked for the Los Angeles Rams in the 1950s. When Rozelle was selected as NFL commissioner in 1960, Elkjer moved to New York to work for him. In 1970, when owners couldn't agree on one of five realignment schemes, Rozelle had Elkjer reach into a vase to select a piece of paper with the winning plan. She pulled out the only one that kept the so-called Black and Blue Division (Chicago, Green Bay, Minnesota and Detroit) intact. If she had picked any of the other plans, the Vikings would have been moved to the eastern division with teams such as the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins. A loyal aide to Rozelle, Elkjer remained his assistant when he moved to Rancho Santa Fe in 1990 and remained in his employ until his death in 1996. Elkjer relocated to San Luis Obispo, where she died at home Feb. 5.

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