Fred Arbanas, Kansas City Chiefs Great and Local Politician, Dead at 82

by Jennifer Shea
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Former Kansas City Chiefs tight end and local politician Fred Arbanas died on Saturday at age 82.

Possibly the best tight end in AFL history, Arbanas was a reliable player for the Chiefs’ two Super Bowl appearances during his tenure, according to the Kansas City Star. He was a six-time all-AFL selection over the course of 10 seasons. And the Pro Football Hall of Fame named him to the All-Time AFL Team. Arbanas also joined the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 1973.

The tight end suffered an attack off the field in 1964 that left him legally blind in his left eye. But that didn’t stop Arbanas from returning to football and earning all-league honors.

“He unselfishly dedicated himself to the success of the team and was instrumental in helping us develop our rich winning tradition,” his coach, Hank Stram, once said, per the Chiefs’ website.

Fred Arbanas Had a Second Career as a Legislator

Once his football career ended, Arbanas turned to local politics. He took office when the Jackson County Legislature first formed in 1973 and was voted chairman in 1974 and again, later, in 1988. All told, Arbanas served for more than 40 years as a legislator in Jackson County.

The Jackson County Democratic Party in Missouri announced Arbanas’ death.

“We are sad to learn about the passing of longtime Jackson County Legislator and advocate Fred Arbanas,” the group said in a statement posted to social media. “His contributions to the county are too long to list here. He was a great man who will be dearly missed.”

According to the Associated Press, Arbanas was a major player in party politics for the past 40 years.

In fact, Arbanas had such an impact on the local parks system that local officials named a golf course after him in 1999. The Fred Arbanas Golf Course sits lakeside in Longview Lake Park and boasts an 18-hole course, a nine-hole par 3 course and a driving range, putting green, chipping green and clubhouse.  

“You want to see the mark Fred Arbanas made on Jackson County, just look at our parks,” County Executive Mike Sanders said in 2014. “Fred was out front, leading the way for the marinas, the beaches, the ball fields, the biking and hiking trails.”

Arbanas Held Many Jobs Throughout His Life

Before he became a legislator, Arbanas worked outside the football field, like other players of his time, per SB Nation. He held jobs doing public relations for Coca-Cola, managing a concrete company and running his own advertising agency.

Arbanas met his wife Sharon at Michigan State, where he played college football. The couple wed in 1960. Sharon died in July of 2019. They are survived by four children and eight grandchildren.

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