Bob Karmelowicz, a nine-year assistant coach with the Chiefs passed away on Saturday night at a hospice in the Detroit area.
Karmelowicz was part of the coaching staffs of Marty Schottenheimer, Gunther Cunningham and Dick Vermeil from 1997 through 2005. It was the longest stint with one team in his 18 years in the NFL.
It was in 2000 that Karm was diagnosed with a rare cancer in his sinus area. At the time, he said only two out of every million Americans got that type of cancer, but it was the most frequently diagnosed cancer in China.
“Old ladies leaning over woks for 50 or 60 years inhaling the smoke and the oils get it all the time,” Karmelowicz said in ‘00. “There’s only two things you can do with this, either you give up or you fight.”
Karm fought for a decade, working with the Houston Texans for three years and then last year with the Lions as part of the defensive staff under head coach Jim Schwartz and Cunningham, Detroit’s defensive coordinator.
“I’ve had the privilege of coaching with and against Karm for a long time and he was one tough guy,” Cunningham said in a statement released by the Lions. “Though his coaching success on the field speaks for itself, I will always remember him for how much he loved kids, his compassion for helping kids and how much he cared for his grandkids. That will always be his lasting impression on me.”
Karm left the Lions back in February and entered a Detroit hospital where he spent many days in intensive care.
A native of Connecticut, Karm was 60 years old. He is survived by his wife Olga and children Liz, Marissa and David. Visitation and a funeral mass will be held Friday morning at the Church of the Divine Child in Dearborn, MI.