Clifford L. Crispin, 77, of Glassboro, a high school basketball star who went on to play for Temple University and who served as a longtime coach and athletic director at Camden County College, died of kidney failure on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at home.
After moving around South Jersey for most of his childhood, Mr. Crispin settled at Woodstown High School, Salem County, and quickly became a star athlete. He made all-league in baseball and football and all-state in basketball at Woodstown, where he graduated in 1952.
A Salem County native, he went on to play at Charlotte Hall prep school in Maryland, where he also excelled at all three sports.
Mr. Crispin served two years in the Army and enrolled at Temple University in 1956, the same year he married his high school sweetheart, Sara Simkins.
At Temple, he was a member of the basketball team that made it to the 1958 NCAA Final Four.
After graduating from Temple in 1960, Mr. Crispin took a job as basketball coach at Clayton High School. He worked there for eight years and at Pitman High School for one year before becoming Camden County College basketball and baseball coach in 1969.
He juggled both roles for six years, but after 1975 he dropped baseball. He coached basketball until the late 1980s, along with a 10-year girls softball coaching stint that ended in 1984, when he took the athletic director job at the college.
One of the things he most enjoyed about coaching at the county college level was helping his students stay focused and develop life goals, his wife said.
"He was trying to instill values in these kids . . . in addition to coaching them," she said.
Mr. Crispin was a big believer that athletics was the key to saving a lot of troubled students. He was always willing to help anyone in need, his family said - even if it meant coming out of retirement.
After retiring as athletic director in 1996, he was immediately asked to return to fill in as the college's baseball coach. The next year, he led the team to its first Junior College World Series appearance since 1976.
He retired again in 1997 but was called back in 2002 to coach the women's basketball team for one season.
"I'm kind of enjoying it," he told The Inquirer in 2002. "All I'm trying to do is save the program for a year."
He led the team, which consisted of seven players on a good day, to a 13-10 season.
In addition to his coaching skills, Mr. Crispin was a dedicated teacher, his wife said. He taught physical education and health.
"So many students have come up to me and said what a great teacher he was . . . and how prepared he always was," she said.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Crispin is survived by sons Steven and Jeffrey; daughter Lynne Shivers; 12 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; a brother; and a sister.
Calling hours are 6 to 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 20, and 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 21, at the First Presbyterian Church of Pitman, 305 S. Broadway in Pitman.
The funeral will follow at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the church.
Interment will be private.