‘Great-Granddaddy’ of UNC Athletics dies at age 99


Bobby Gersten in a photo from William Thorpe

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — The oldest former University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill athlete — who in the 1950s helped bring New York players to play for former Tar Heel coach Frank McGuire — has died.

Bobby Gersten, “The Great-Granddaddy of UNC Athletics” died at UNC Hospitals on Friday, officials said.

Gersten, 99, was the oldest person who had played athletics at UNC — in his case basketball and baseball.

In 1942, Gersten received the Patterson Award for his leadership in athletics at UNC. Upon graduation, he served for three years in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II.

After the war, he returned to his hometown in Long Island, New York, to coach basketball and baseball at Long Beach High School.

A celebration of Gersten’s life and legacy will be held at the Sheraton Chapel Hill Hotel on Oct. 25 at 6 p.m.

“In the spirit of the legendary Bobby G, this celebration event will also serve as a Carolina-Duke football pre-game pep rally in support of the Tar Heels,” officials said.

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