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OU football: Former Sooners end Paul Benien Jr. dies at 80

YUKON — Former OU football player Paul Benien Jr., who played for the Sooners from 1959-61, died Wednesday.

He was 80.

Benien was one of a large group of Sooners who suffered from food poisoning before the 1959 opener at Northwestern.

The team went out to dinner at Chicago's Chez Paree nightclub two nights before the game. By the time the main course was served, Benien and 12 of his teammates became violently ill.

The players were herded into cabs to head back to the team hotel, but quickly redirected to a local hospital — with several stops on the way as the illness got worse. 

"We didn't know what the heck happened," Benien told The Daily Northwestern last year. 

Seven were hospitalized and three of them — including Benien — missed the game, which Northwestern won 45-13. Tainted fruit cocktail was suspected the be the cause. 

Benien, a Tulsa native, went on to receive his medical degree from the College of Osteopathic Medicine in Des Moines Iowa. He served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps during the Vietnam War from 1967-70 and earned the Bronze Star. 

His brother, John, who also played for the Sooners, was killed in action in the Vietnam War.

Benien served two terms on the Oklahoma State Board of Osteopathic Examiners.

Related Photos
Dr. Paul Benien uses a marker to plot lines where contour thread will run through Effie Jones' face before she is taken into surgery room in 2005. Benien, a former OU football player, died Wednesday at 80. [Oklahoman archives]

Dr. Paul Benien uses a marker to plot lines where contour thread will run through Effie Jones' face before she is taken into surgery room in 2005. Benien, a former OU football player, died Wednesday at 80. [Oklahoman archives]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-aec9d4e28fb0884e2acd611f4f8b537a.jpg" alt="Photo - Dr. Paul Benien uses a marker to plot lines where contour thread will run through Effie Jones' face before she is taken into surgery room in 2005. Benien, a former OU football player, died Wednesday at 80. [Oklahoman archives] " title="Dr. Paul Benien uses a marker to plot lines where contour thread will run through Effie Jones' face before she is taken into surgery room in 2005. Benien, a former OU football player, died Wednesday at 80. [Oklahoman archives] "><figcaption>Dr. Paul Benien uses a marker to plot lines where contour thread will run through Effie Jones' face before she is taken into surgery room in 2005. Benien, a former OU football player, died Wednesday at 80. [Oklahoman archives] </figcaption></figure>
Ryan Aber

Ryan Aber has worked for The Oklahoman since 2006, covering high schools, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, the Oklahoma City Barons and OU football recruiting. An Oklahoma City native, Aber graduated from Northeastern State. Before joining The... Read more ›

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