Updated 10:41 p.m.: Keaton Jurevitz, a senior linebacker for Bettendorf High School, scored his first varsity touchdown during his last game Friday in front of his father, famed former St. Ambrose University football player Bob Jurevitz.

Bob hung on to watch Keaton’s final game before succumbing to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, Saturday after returning home from Cedar Falls. The Bulldogs came up short against West Des Moines Valley, falling 17-14 in the Class 4A state championship game.

Though he lived well outside of the few months doctors predicted he would back in May, the storied running back was just 48 when he died. 

Funeral arrangements are pending at Weerts in Davenport. 

His career at St. Ambrose still has considerable weight as No. 44 holds every St. Ambrose scoring record and is the school’s second-leading all-time rusher.

In 1985, he led the NAIA with 27 touchdowns, a record no Fighting Bee has beaten since. His 64 career touchdowns and 414 points remain untouched by a wide margin as well. 

But if Bob’s status in the Quad-Cities wasn’t built entirely on his career at St. Ambrose, the last 25 years of raising four athletic children, coaching and supporting the Bettendorf Bulldogs cemented it.

“He really enjoyed being around kids,” said Bettendorf football coach Aaron Wiley. “He did a great job with us from that standpoint.”

 

The battle

It has been tough for the Jurevitz family since Bob was diagnosed with the incurable disease a little more than a year ago.

In a May interview with the Quad-City Times, Bob’s wife, Tracey, lamented the ALS diagnosis and watching her husband of 21 years slowly lose his ability to care for himself.

 “I just wish it was another disease so we could try something,” she said. 

Wiley said Sunday he wasn’t sure how Keaton handled the stress of watching his father slowly wither away so well.  

“He always had a smile on his face and is still one of our best leaders and captains,” Wiley said of Keaton.

Andy Lam, a senior on the Bulldogs’ offensive line, said despite Bob’s illness he still came out to see his son play.

“Keaton played his heart out for his dad,” Lam said. “He made his dad proud.”

 

A family of athletes

While Bob was better known as a running back with his 5,126 rushing yards, both of his boys were linebackers. 

Bob’s No. 44 hangs prominently above the locker room at SAU and has seen a lot of use with the Bulldogs as well.  

Mitch, the oldest, won the state championship title with it in 2007.

Keaton donned 44 this season while winning all-conference honors as a linebacker in 2010. 

All four of Bob’s children have impacted Bettendorf athletics. 

Third-in-line Lexy plays volleyball and softball, while Brandy, the youngest, balances volleyball, softball, basketball and track. 

During his four years playing with the Fighting Bees, Bob was team captain and MVP. His children have carried on a legacy of leadership as well. 

“His two sons both played for me,” Wiley said. “I’ve coached for 20 years, and they’re probably two of the best leaders that I’ve had — and not just on the field.” 

Wiley, who said he was more familiar with Bob’s children than he was with the ex-Fighting Bee, has taught both of the girls as well. 

“The boys are just great leaders, and the girls are just the sweetest, nicest, most respectful people,” Wiley said. 

 

Off the field

Bob spent a season coaching the running backs for the Bettendorf program and coached junior programs in the Riverdale school district in Illinois, where his parents live.

Lam, a senior who played alongside Keaton on Friday, said he spends his weekends at the Jurevitz house and will miss Bob for his wisdom. 

“He’s a very strong man, very humble,” Lam said. “Whenever he said something, you listened because you knew it would be good.”

Lam has been a regular at the Jurevitz household since middle school and remembers being petrified of Bob when they first met. 

“He was this big, strong man, and I was intimidated by him,” Lam said with a laugh. “He never coached me, but he’d always tell me if I had a great game or if I did anything well.”

The loss, while expected, still hits Lam hard. His voice cracked as he talked about some of Bob’s idiosyncrasies. 

“We’d always come back to Keaton’s house for lunch and watch TV,” Lam said. “And Bob, every single time, just wanted to watch the cattle channel and see how much cattle were going for.”

“He meant so much to everyone, everyone loved his family,  and he stayed so strong for them,” Lam said. “Everyone hopes that they can grow up as loved and be loved by someone as strong as him.  He’s a great man, a great father, a great athlete and a great friend.”


Bob Jurevitz lived long enough to see his son Keaton score the first touchdown of the Bettendorf Bulldogs' Class 4A championship game Friday night against eventual winner West Des Moines Valley.

He succumbed Saturday to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, about a year after his diagnosis. He was 48.

The famed former running back still holds the Fighting Bees' school record of 64 touchdowns during his career, the single-season record of 27 touchdowns, and the school’s record for career points at 414.

His number, 44, is on a jersey hanging above the entrance to the locker room at St. Ambrose and was worn by both of his sons during their senior seasons with the Bettendorf Bulldogs.

He is survived by his wife Tracey, sons Keaton and Mitch, and daughters Brandy and Lexy.

Funeral arrangements are pending at Weerts in Davenport.

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