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Edward R. Devlin, 72, Ocean City Realtor

Vietnam War vet, former casino executive

OK, CALL IT far-fetched, but after his death on Thursday, Ed Devlin may have made it known how happy he was with the Eagles' victory over New England three days later.

After Ed died, a Catholic priest who went to his bedside, told the family to expect a sign from Ed letting them know everything was all right.

"While we were watching the Eagles game on Sunday, I suddenly knew what the sign was," said his brother, Terry. "It was the Eagles beating the Patriots!"

Whatever, Ed certainly would have been thrilled by the unexpected victory. He was a passionate Eagles fan. But whether he could convey that joy from beyond the grave is a matter for theologians to ponder.

Edward R. Devlin, a South Jersey real estate broker, onetime casino executive who helped establish riverboat casinos at Chicago and Memphis, Army veteran of the Vietnam War, irrepressible storyteller who could keep the kids riveted by his tales of adventure, many of them true, world traveler and a devoted family patriarch, died Thursday of heart failure. He was 72 and lived in Galloway, N.J.

"He was very outgoing," his brother said. "He often said of himself, 'I'm a great storyteller.' The kids would sit around him on the beach and he would tell them about being in Vietnam and other places. There was only a little embellishment."

Ed and his wife, the former Patricia Sweeney, traveled the world to visit their son, also Edward, and his wife, Jeannine, as they took assignments as teachers with the American International Schools in Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Mexico. His son also worked for Aramco, formerly the Arabian-American Oil Co., in Saudi Arabia as a personnel director.

Edward R. Devlin was born in Philadelphia to Edward Devlin and Mary Green Devlin Cooper. He graduated from St. Joseph's Preparatory School in 1961, and later spent a year at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y.

He joined the Army in September 1963, and served four years in the Philippines and Vietnam as a communications specialist.

After his discharge in June 1967, he went to work as a truck driver for the Mack Transportation Co., making deliveries mostly for the Wanamaker department store.

He married Patricia Sweeney in January 1970. They lived for a time in Northeast Philadelphia.

In 1979, Ed became a craps dealer at the former Sands Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. He was promoted to shift manager, then the company asked him to help establish riverboat casinos.

He worked on the Sands riverboat on the Fox River near Chicago, and the Mississippi at Memphis for the Sheraton Star casinos. He was in charge of staffing and other details. He and his wife lived for a time in Memphis.

In 1998, Ed returned to New Jersey and joined the Gold Coast Sotheby's real estate firm in Ocean City as a salesman, dealing mostly with residential properties. His wife is also a licensed real estate broker.

Ed was active with the Ocean City Board of Realtors, participating in its charitable work.

"He would support any charity," his brother said. "He attended events, sold tickets, whatever he needed to do to help people."

Besides his wife, son and brother, he is survived by another son, John S. Devlin; another brother, John Patrick Devlin, and two grandchildren.

Services: Funeral Mass 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Frances Cabrini Church, 2nd Street and Atlantic Avenue, Ocean City, N.J. Friends may call at 10 a.m. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Operation First Response, c/o Ocean City Bank, 1001 Asbury Ave., Ocean City, NJ 08226.