Gary Pajcic

Gary Pajcic

Gary Pajcic (October 2, 1947-August 2, 2006), was an outstanding high school and college athlete, lawyer and philanthropist in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida.

Upbringing and education

Pajcic was raised in Northwest Jacksonville. He attended Annie R. Morgan Elementary School, Paxon Middle School, and Paxon High School. At Paxon High, he played football, basketball and baseball. He was the first player to be named Most Outstanding Football and Basketball player in Duval County. Pajcic was also honored as Scholar-Athlete for the State of Florida.


Pajcic played a big role in the success of friend and teammate Ron Sellers, who eventually was a 1968 first team All-American, sixth pick overall in the first round of the 1969 NFL draft, and played five years of professional football. Sellers and Pajcic met when the two were five years old. They attended schools together from first grade, and while Pajcic was considered the recruit that every college wanted, not everyone held Sellers in such high regard.
"Gary and I made a pact because we were a quarterback/receiver combination," Sellers said. "If one school offered both of us scholarships, we would both go to that school. Well, Florida wanted him but they told me I wasn't major college material."
Florida State said, 'We want both of you.' So off to Tallahassee they went.

Pajcic starred on the freshman team in the fall of 1965. The following year he took over as FSU’s starting quarterback. That was the season he threw the pass that resulted in "The Catch", the most controversial play in Florida State football history. In the home game against rival University of Florida, FSU trailed by 3 with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter. Ron Sellers was on the sideline to catch his breath after having the wind knocked out of him on the previous play. Lane Fenner, who was fresh because he had not yet played in the game, replaced Sellers. At the snap, he blew past the Gator defensive backs and Pajcic threw a perfect 45-yard pass to Fenner in the end zone, who caught it over-the-shoulder. The crowd erupted, but a few seconds later, the linesman, who trailed the play from the line of scrimmage, arrived at the goal line and signaled the catch out of bounds. Pictures in newspapers the following day seem to support the claim that he was in-bounds and many Seminoles regard this event as the start of their bitter rivalry with the Gators.

Pajcic was named honorable mention All-America honors as a sophomore in '66, throwing for 1,590 yards and eight touchdowns. Following the 1966 season, Pajcic suffered an arm injury that put him behind future Hall of Famers Kim Hammond in 1967 and Bill Cappleman in 1968. However, Pajcic’s reputation as a passer made him one of the most reliable and memorable quarterbacks in Seminole history. He received his undergraduate degree from FSU in 1969 and Law degree from FSU in 1972.


Pajcic passed the Florida Bar and started as an Assistant State Attorney in Jacksonville in 1972. Within 18 months, he was promoted to Division chief, then accepted the position of Assistant General Counsel for the City of Jacksonville in 1974. Also that year, Gary and brother Steve Pajcic decided to go into private practice together, forming Pajcic & Pajcic.


Gary Pajcic never ran for office, but he remained politically active behind the scenes over his lifetime. He managed brother Steve Pajcic's unsuccessful campaign for Florida governor in 1986. In 1995, Gary Pajcic and his brother Steve managed Nat Glover's campaign to become Jacksonville's first African-American sheriff. Most political "experts" gave Glover little chance of success, but against the odds, the Pajcic brothers campaign strategy gave Sheriff Nat Glover a victory.

Philanthrophy in education

Besides working as an attorney, Pajcic remained an active proponent of education as a private citizen. In 1992, Pajcic and his brother Steve established a million dollar endowment at the University of North Florida to pay the full tuition of any graduate of their alma mater, Paxon High School, who was accepted and enrolled at UNF.. The football field at their alma mater now carries their name.

Gary Pajcic donated $1 million to Seminole Boosters as part of the Dynasty Campaign in 2002. The football program's recruiting room is now called the Gary Pajcic Recruiting Room. He was also a member of the Seminole Boosters, Inc. national board of directors.

In 2002, Pajcic and his brother donated another $1 million to boost education at five inner-city elementary schools in Jacksonville including Annie R. Morgan Elementary school, where both brothers attended.

Two other high profile donations included $100,000 to the Warrick Dunn Foundation to help single mothers buy their first homes and $100,000 to former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel's Desire Street Ministries to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Untimely End

After playing golf with his oldest son on a Friday afternoon, Pajcic had chills that night, then developed a fever the next day. He was hospitalized on Sunday after having a seizure and fell into a coma. On Wednesday, August 2, 2006, he was taken off life support and died. He was 58. Tests confirmed that he had contracted viral encephalitis.


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