Bob Kenney was a giant on the South Jersey sports scene.

As sports editor at the Courier-Post from the mid-1970s through the early 1990s, Kenney was the driving force in the expansion of coverage of high school sports, especially girls' sports.

Kenney, who died Sunday at the age of 80, was a man ahead of his time.

His run as sports editor at the Courier-Post came during high times for newspapers, with virtually no limitations in terms of newsprint and manpower and resources and travel budgets.

I get misty just thinking of those days -- and how exciting it was to be a part of that sports-journalism scene.

Kenney harnessed a huge staff at the newspaper in Cherry Hill -- there must have been close to 40 of us working in the sports department in the 1980s, counting part-timers and a deep and talented sports desk staff -- and changed the way South Jersey high school sports was covered.

We covered a lot more than high schools, too. The paper had a "beat" writer for every professional team in Philadelphia in those days as well as a general columnist and a couple of college writers.

And C-P staffers were on the road all the time with the Philadelphia professional or college teams and on other assignments as well.

One of my first travel assignments was to cover the 1982 NCAA Final Four in New Orleans -- simply because Louisville had a freshman guard on the team from Camden High named Milt Wagner.

(That was the Final Four that culminated with a jumper from the left wing in the national title game by a North Carolina freshman named Michael Jordan).

Kenney recognized the importance of girls' sports before just about anyone else in the business. He had the Courier-Post devoting nearly equal space to girls' sports as boys' sports -- a revolutionary vision in those days.

Along with late assistant sports editor John Vogeding, Kenney presided over a department that bustled with energy and enthusiasm and pride in its page-after-page-after-page coverage of the local sports scene.

He was a newspaper guy's newspaper guy. He looked the part with his shirt and tie and glasses and he acted the part, too -- carrying himself with self-assurance that he was in an important and vibrant field and that his staff was doing some good work on a daily basis.

Kenney's energy was boundless.

He was a highly decorated track and field writer. He covered multiple Olympics for Gannett News Service. He was the author of two books -- one about the town of Riverside, another about St. Peter's Roman Catholic parish in Riverside. He was the impetus for the building a softball field at Camden Catholic.

He was the long-time official scorer for the Phillies, leaving the office in Cherry Hill around 5:30 on so many spring and summer nights and driving over to Veterans Stadium with co-workers Rick Ventura and the late Doug Frambes.

(Random memory that just came flooding back: Getting off the elevator at the ground level after filing a story after a game just as former Phillie Glenn Wilson (still in uniform) was getting on the elevator to go up to the press box to complain to Kenney about a scoring decision that probably cost him an RBI or something. I don't know how that turned out. I'm supremely confident that Bob Kenney wasn't intimidated by Glenn Wilson).

Kenney, who lived in Riverside, was a member of multiple Hall of Fames. He was one of the founding members of the Camden County Sports Hall of Fame and remained an active force in that group until his health began to fail this summer.

Kenney was diagnosed with cancer in June. He also had battled heart problems and other medical issues for several years.

He died "peacefully" on Sunday afternoon, according to his son, Ed.

Funeral services were pending.

-- Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com

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