Football was a passion for Bernard Grabowski. He played it as a youth and was a lifelong fan of the Eagles, seeking out the team even after he retired to North Carolina a few years ago, and finding it there on TV at a local bar. In a double helping of Philly nostalgia, the place also served cheesesteaks.
Mr. Grabowski, 75, a member of Riverside High School's Football Hall of Fame and a resident of King of Prussia before he and his wife moved to North Carolina in 2010, died Friday, Nov. 20, of cancer at his home in Brevard.
Mr. Grabowski, known as "Bernie," was recruited to play football for the U.S. Naval Academy. He was admitted to Riverside's hall of fame in 2011.
In Brevard, son Joseph, said, his father liked to watch football at Big Mike's, where Keystone sports memorabilia were part of the decor and cheesesteaks were served during Eagles and Steelers games.
Mr. Grabowski graduated from Riverside High in 1959 and attended Bullis Prep School in Silver Spring, Md., before attending the Naval Academy. He graduated in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in engineering.
He was a Marine Corps officer from 1963 to 1968, with tours at bases in the United States, including Guam, and South Vietnam before he retired as a captain.
Mr. Grabowski began his civilian career with General Electric's space program. Later he worked in operations and systems analysis at Lankenau Hospital, First Pennsylvania Bank, Worldco Data Systems, AT&T, and AIG, all near Philadelphia or Wilmington.
As a father, his son said, he was stern and "did not put up with bad behavior, but he was always there for you and taught you great life lessons."
Mr. Grabowski was playful with his grandchildren.
When his daughter was about 5, Joseph Grabowski said, she dressed as a pirate for Halloween. He said his father arrived at their house also dressed as a pirate with his Marine Corps decoration sword, a parrot on his shoulder, and an eye patch.
Mr. Grabowski was an avid amateur photographer, and loved computers and other technology.
He is survived by his wife of 17 years, Lois. His former wife, Nancy Mahony, died in 2008.
Besides his son, Mr. Grabowski is also survived by daughters Noreen and Karen; two grandchildren; and a brother.
A memorial service Sunday, Dec. 6, is scheduled for 1 to 5 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel, 640 Fountain Rd., Plymouth Meeting. A receiving line from 1 to 2 p.m. will be followed by a celebration with food, drink, and the sharing of memories.
Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society or the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation to benefit the Class of '63 Center for Academic Excellence, Beach Hall, 291 Wood Rd., Annapolis, Md. 21402-1254.