Florida Gators' beloved cheerleader, 'Mr. Two Bits,' dead at 97

Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

The University of Florida football team's biggest cheerleader died Tuesday.

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George Edmondson Jr., a Tampa insurance salesman known as "Mr. Two Bits" has died, the Tampa Bay Times reported. He was 97.

Edmondson, who never attended the university in Gainesville, was a fixture at Florida football games. He could be seen running through the stands, dressed in a yellow oxford shirt with an orange and blue tie and khaki pants, getting the crowd's attention with a whistle and then leading them in a cheer as he waved his "2-Bits" sign, a practice he began in 1949, the Gainesville Sun reported.

The cheer was simple — “Two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar. All for the Gators, stand up and holler!”

In August, a celebration of life will be held in Tampa, the Times reported.

Edmondson began the "Two Bits" cheer Sept. 24, 1949, at Florida Field, when the Gators hosted The Citadel. Edmondson, who briefly attended the Citadel, was sitting in Row 83 and said he was upset the fans were booing the Gators, according to the Times.

He began the cheer, and the Gators won, 13-0. From then on, Edmondson led the cheer at every game.

In a statement, University of Florida President Kent Fuchs said, "George Edmondson truly brought joy and excitement to generations of Gators. To this day, no football game at the University of Florida is complete without his familiar cheer ringing throughout the stadium. The way he lived his life is a testament to power of loyalty, dedication, team work and not giving up when the chips are down, and that is a wonderful legacy."

"I can still see him across the field with that little sign that said '2-Bits.' And there he'd go," Steve Spurrier, who won a Heisman Trophy at Florida and also coached the Gators to their first national title in 1996, told the Times.

"The Gator Nation has always meant so much to us, and George and I have loved being a part of it," Edmondson's wife, Jane Edmondson, said Thursday in a statement.

In 1970, George Edmondson was named an honorary cheerleader, the Times reported.

"His energy was incredible," former Athletic Director Jeremy Foley told the newspaper. "I don’t know what was in his DNA. No matter the score, no matter the temperature, no matter the season, George would never stop. He was the Energizer bunny. He just kept going.”

Edmondson is survived by his wife, three children, three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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