YOU WOULDN'T think it would be a smart move if a man's intended told him she didn't like his red shirt and he went ahead and wore it anyway on an early date.

But Regina Beers must have been the forgiving kind because she tolerated the red shirt and wound up marrying James E. Kearney anyway.

Jim Kear-ney, a retired National Football League official who was active with Holy Cross Parish in Springfield, Delaware County, an Army veteran of the Korean War and a "Pop-Pop" to 18 grandchildren, died of pneumonia on Sunday . He was 79 and lived in Glen Mills.

Jim became a back judge in the NFL in 1978 after many years as a football official in the Catholic Youth Organization and leadership roles in several associations of officials. After 18 years, he moved on to spend eight years observing other officials and as a replay official and scout.

Jim was one of the original instructors of the Philadelphia Eagles' "Football 101" annual program for women. He won numerous awards for his sports activities, and suffered one concussion on the field.

He officiated two American Bowls at Wembley Stadium in London with the Eagles during the Buddy Ryan era. He was a popular speaker at football banquets.

Jim Kearney was born in Philadelphia's Schuylkill neighborhood, the youngest of the five children of James Kearney and the former Mary Wickersham.

He attended St. Patrick's Parochial School and the old Southeast Catholic High School for Boys before entering the Army.

He was a sales rep for petroleum companies.

Jim always said the happiest phase of his life began on July 5, 1955, when he attended a dance at St. Francis de Sales Parish and met two lovely young women — Joanna Joseph and Regina Beers.

After the dance, he dropped Joanna off at her home and began courting Regina. Despite the red-shirt episode, they married a little more than a year later.

They lived in Westbrook Park, Delaware County, for a time and then moved to Springfield, where Jim became an integral part of the development and growth of Holy Cross Parish, which was founded in 1948.

He became director of the CYO and president of the Home and School Association. He was a founder and trustee of the Frank Della Monica Fund, named for the Rev. Francis X. Della Monica, which provided Holy Cross students with scholarship money to help with tuition costs at Cardinal O'Hara High School.

Jim was a lector and eucharistic minister, and often played Santa Claus at the annual Christmas bazaar. He and his wife volunteered for the Provide a Meal program at St. John's Hospice.

He was commissioner of officials of the Philadelphia Catholic Football League, and a member of the Eastern Assciation of Intercollegiate Football Officials, the Philadelphia Central Board of Football Officials and Del-Mont Football Officials.

Besides his wife, he is survived by five daughters; Regina Cooper, Mary Porth, Dolores Rigano, Sharon Swanick and Jamie Mulholland, and 18 grandchildren.

Services: Funeral Mass 10 a.m. Friday at St. Dorothy Church, 4910 Township Line Road, Drexel Hill. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Convent of Divine Love (Pink Sisters), 2212 Green St., Philadelphia 19130.

Contact John F. Morrison at 215-854-5573 or morrisj@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @johnfmorrison