Longtime Pro-Football editor and sportswriter Gordon Maxwell Forbes, age 90, passed away on Thursday, June 25, 2020, peacefully at his home in Lakewood, New Jersey.
Born in Bellport, New York, on February 6, 1930, he was raised in nearby Patchogue, Long Island. Gordon graduated from Patchogue High School in 1947. An outstanding athlete, he received a total of 10 varsity letters in football, baseball, and basketball. While still in high school, he began what would become an exceptional career as a sportswriter by penning a column called the "Hot Corner" for his hometown weekly, The Patchogue Advance.
After high school, Gordon served with the United States Army as a field radio instructor at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. In 1955 Gordon graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
After college, Gordon moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where he became a journalist for the Florida Times-Union (FTU). While at FTU, he covered high school sports, the University of Florida's football and basketball teams, and the City's minor league baseball team, the Jacksonville Suns.
In 1960 Gordon embarked on a 21-year career with the Philadelphia Inquirer. In 1966 he became the paper's beat writer, covering the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles; while also covering college basketball for the "Big 5" teams and track for Villanova University.
In 1982 Gordon became USA Today's first pro football editor. In 1988 he received the prestigious Dick McCann Memorial Award by the Professional Football Writers of America for "long and distinguished reporting on professional football." In 1992 he was inducted into the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame. “He was the best friend and mentor a young reported could have. Always helpful. Always willing to share phone numbers and assist with contacts,” said Larry Weisman, a former colleague of Gordon’s at USA Today.
Over four decades, Gordon covered more than 900 pro football games, including 39 Super Bowls. Following his retirement from USA Today in 2002, he remained active in covering football as an independent columnist and prolific writer by authoring three books about professional football. The first entitled, "Tales from the Eagles Sidelines" profiled the individuals who thrilled Philadelphia fans since the team's inception in 1933 through Doug Peterson's term as head coach. That was followed in 2009 by "Vermeil," a biography of former Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil. His final book "When the 49ers Were Kings" was published in 2018. The book chronicled the decade in which the team won four Super Bowls under coach and personal friend Bill Walsh.
Gordon’s knowledge of pro-football was highly sought after and he frequently was interviewed for television shows, including "The Today Show" and "Nightline" and was a pro football insider for HBO's "Inside the NFL". He was most proud of a cameo appearance in the 2006 film "Invincible," which starred Mark Wahlberg, who played Vince Papale, a 30-year-old bartender who becomes a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
He was a member of a syndicate that raced horses under the moniker "Write Stuff Stable". Its members were all current and former sportswriters. Their horses ran at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, Aqueduct and Belmont Park in New York and Gulfstream Park Florida.
An avid jogger, Gordon usually ran five times weekly. He made jogging on Sunday mornings a ritual when he was on the road covering pro football games for USA Today. In his later years, he began playing bocce to keep his competitive nature fulfilled.
He was predeceased by his beloved wife, June, in 1994 and longtime cherished partner, Marie Schebesta, in 2015. He was also predeceased by his siblings Warren, Charles, and Gloria. Gordon is survived by his sons, James of Palm Harbor, Florida; Christopher and his wife Melissa of Maple Shade, New Jersey; his step-daughter, Karen Donohue and her husband Glenn of Toms River, New Jersey; and six granddaughters Skylar, Cassidy, Rebecca, Kaitlyn, Emily, and Meaghan. He is also survived by many nieces, nephews, and friends. The family would also like to acknowledge his amazing, dedicated care team led by Yvonne Davis.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations to the Ronald McDonald House, which was started by his dear friends, Fred and Francine Hill. Please use the link www.rmhcsc.org/orangecounty or mail directly to the Ronald McDonald House O.C., Attention: Virginia Schacher. 383 S. Batavia Street, Orange, CA 92868. Please note Gordon Forbes Memorial.
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