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Forrest Jerome, A Good Friend Of DBR, Has Passed Away

We’re going to miss him.

Clarkson NCAA Archive
 LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 22: Art Heyman #25 of the Duke Blue Devils defends Jack Egan #11 of the Loyola Ramblers during the semifinal game of the NCAA Men”u2019s Basketball Tournament held at Freedom Hall on March 22, 1963 in Louisville, Kentucky. Loyola defeated Duke 94-75 to advance to the finals.
Rich Clarkson/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Many Blue Devil fans have only known Duke Basketball as Mike Krzyzewski envisioned it and with an epic 42-year run, that’s totally understandable.

However, Duke Basketball did not start in 1980. There is a tremendous history before then, including the brief, highly successful Bill Foster era in the 1970’s. And before that was the glorious Vic Bubas era in the 1960’s.

A lot of older Duke fans remember it well. Bubas came out of the Indiana fast break tradition that Everett Case brought to North Carolina. Indeed, Case brought Bubas to NC State; Duke hired him away as an assistant in 1960, a few years before Case was diagnosed with cancer. Things might have been very different in the ACC had Bubas stayed in Raleigh.

But he didn’t, and his program fired people’s imagination. He really encouraged what later became known as the Cameron Crazies and among those who developed an immense passion for basketball then was a young man named Forrest Jerome.

We got to know him several years ago when he sent us some photos he took while a student photographer at Duke and they were, in every sense, beautiful. Each one demonstrated his mastery of the craft, but he also caught the soul of the program at that time. The photos of Art Heyman, Jeff Mullins and Bubas, among others, were just great. There was a lot of art in the photos he sent.

We thanked him for that and he mentioned, sort of off-handedly, that he had recently gotten a terminal diagnosis from his doctor.

We developed a very nice correspondence and found that not only did he have an admirable intelligence but was also innately decent and kind-hearted. His basketball insights were really good and he often wrote after a game to give his impressions, some of which we shamelessly borrowed because he often saw things we missed.

It was a friendship that one grew to treasure even though there was always a sense of limited time.

He confided some news periodically. At one point, there was a treatment that seemed very promising but ultimately it could only buy time. However, it bought a surprising amount of it and the correspondence continued for longer than we thought possible, which was a blessing.

We didn’t get to know him as well as we might have liked, but we knew how much he loved his family and what Duke Basketball meant to him. He was old school, which we really valued.

After a long fight with his illness, Forrest passed away recently. We admired him for many reasons, but not least of all because of the quiet courage with which he faced certain death. Brave men are somewhat out of fashion today but when you see one, it leaves an impression. Forrest certainly left a big one. We’re going to miss him deeply. Our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.