Two seemingly unconnected events inspired me to remember Mike Duberson in this column. On Friday the Brigantine Times carried a picture of Mike with seventh-grade students collecting food for the Salvation Army. The very next day I heard Deacon Len Long eulogize Elaine Connor at a Mass celebrating her life. In this eulogy Deacon Len related how the death of his best friend Mike Duberson changed his thoughts about life and death leading to his conversion and path to becoming a deacon.

Who was Mike Duberson? Mike was an exceptional teacher who truly loved and cared about each student. He was the boys basketball coach at Brigantine North School in the late 1970s; the girls program did not start until 1982 under Ruth Ann Meyer.

Mike loved each player. Each week he would go into the industrial arts room and make wooden plaques in the shape of a basketball with the player's name and inscription “Player of the Week.” Two of these plaques hung on my sunporch wall among the many trophies for many years. Mike Duberson was more than a coach. He was a caring role model to his kids.

During summers Mike would bring fruit and vegetables from his garden in Mays Landing my family and to the families of his kids. This was typical of Mike – always doing for others.

Who was Mike Duberson? He was the guy collecting goods for the Salvation Army while teaching kids the importance of kindness. He was the guy whose death in 1988 changed the life of his best friend Len Long, a retired teacher and former weightlifting champion, who is now passing forward Mike’s influence by touching so many lives through his ministry.

Mike was the teacher who was a true champion of children. He was a coach whose handmade plaques made his players feel so appreciated. Mike was the guy who overcame seizures with the help of his principal Willia Raye to become an exceptional teacher, principal, coach, and a humble role model for students, fellow teachers and parents. I know Mike touched my family.

I hadn’t thought about Mike Duberson in years. Yet two unrelated events on consecutive days ignited my memory of a wonderful human being. All things happen for a reason! Now, when I hear “The Song of St. Francis,” I will be reminded of Mike Duberson, who so well exemplified so many of the qualities that are prayed for in the song.

Scrapbook Scribblings

The Holy Spirit Lady Spartans (19-8) advanced to the semifinal round with a 35-26 win over a very good Moorestown Friends team (21-5). The Spartans will have played one of the top teams in the state, the Patrick School (25-2) on March 6.

Travis Stoll scored 12 points to help St. Augustine beat Notre Dame 78-64 to advance to the South Jersey final. Travis is the grandson of the late legendary Joe Mason of Brigantine and Jerry Stoll, an All-South Jersey football star. He comes from a family of athletes from Brigantine and Absecon including the Klemms, Masons, Cookes and Stolls who closely follow his career.

Once again Brigantine was the rowing capital of South Jersey, hosting hundreds of rowers at the Brigantine Elementary School for the annual Greenhead Sprints Indoor Rowing Regatta sponsored by the Brigantine Rowing Club.

Stay informed! Sign up to receive top headlines from Atlantic County delivered to your inbox.