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In February 2006, Chris Ford’s No. 42 jersey was raised into the rafters at Villanova University. Joining the 38-year NBA player and coach at the ceremony were the members of his Atlantic City-area basketball family, from left, the late Bill Deibert, Holy Spirit High School varsity coach; Ford; Bob Derbyshire, Ford’s Biddy League coach; Rose Pollito, widow of Pete Pollito; the late Allen “Boo” Pergament, Holy Spirit freshman coach and basketball camp founder; and the late Jack Kraft, Ford’s Villanova coach.

Bob Derbyshire, a longtime figure in the local sports scene, died Monday morning, friends and former colleagues confirmed Tuesday.

His family could not be reached Tuesday night.

Derbyshire was known for his involvement in radio and public address announcing at many sporting events throughout the area, especially at Atlantic City and Holy Spirit high schools.

He touched many lives during his career, including those of colleague Tom Williams and friend Joe Fussner.

“He was such an important part of the sports scene in Atlantic County,” Williams said. “It really feels like something is missing without him. He had a great sense of humor. It was always nice going to a game and seeing Derbyshire there.”

Williams is a radio host for Prime Events that has its own show on 97.3 ESPN. Derbyshire did play-by-play and color commenting with Williams, covering basketball and football games.

Williams said he knew Derbyshire for about 50 years.

“He did so much and is really going to be missed,” he said.

Fussner, the recently retired head coach of the Stockton University women’s basketball team, said he first met Derbyshire in 1968 when they both worked for the Atlantic City Umpire Association.

Fussner coached the Atlantic City girls basketball team in the mid-1970s to early-1980s. During that time, Derbyshire announced almost every one of the Vikings’ games.

Derbyshire also coached basketball at Holy Spirit, leading the Spartans to the 1976 South Jersey Parochial A title.

“From the first time I was with him, he was always involved in youth and high school sports,” Fussner said. “Between coaching and public announcing, there probably wasn’t a sporting event that he didn’t have his hands on.”

When Fussner first start coaching at Stockton, Derbyshire was his assistant coach for seven years. Fussner then left to coach the Atlantic City boys basketball team.

Derbyshire coached at the university for another three seasons.

Fussner said Derbyshire left a big legacy in the local area and will be “remembered as the man behind the microphone.”

About five years ago, Williams and Fussner said, Derbyshire became ill and had to stop his radio duties and public announcing at high school events such as holiday basketball tournaments, which he never missed.

“He was a good friend of mine,” Fussner said. “Good and loyal person, very good with the players. Just a very likable person. ... He touched a lot of people.”

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Contact: 609-272-7210 PMulranen@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressMulranen

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