BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A memorial service will be held Monday for Patrick J. McGroder, executive vice president of the Buffalo Bills, who died Wednesday at Memorial Hospital in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Bills spokesman L. Budd Thalman said McGroder, 81, credited with being instrumental in obtaining a pro football franchise for Buffalo 26 years ago, died after a short illness.
McGroder joined the Bills' front office as vice-president in 1960, insisting he receive no salary, when the team was one of the original members of the old American Football League.
A Buffalo native, McGroder was credited with persuading team owner Ralph Wilson to locate the team in his home town.
'Patrick McGroder and the Buffalo Bills will forever be synonymous,' Wilson said in a statement released by the club. 'He was my closest and dearest friend.'
McGroder, who served as the team's general manager for a brief period in 1983, was the first non-player to be honored on the Bills 'Wall of Fame' at Rich Stadium.
He was inducted September 29th along with former Bills quarterback Rep. Jack Kemp, R-N.Y., joining Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson on the hallowed wall.
'No Buffalo player ever had a better friend than Pat McGroder,' Simpson said in a statement, adding that he considered McGroder 'a father figure' and 'a giant man who can never be replaced.'
McGroder is survived by his wife, Loretta, two daughters and a son.