By Nick Cammuso
Times West Virginian
For the greats in Fairmont Senior athletic history — from Bill Leskovar in the 1940s to the school’s most recent Kennedy Award winner in Kyle Allard — perhaps no one personified the Polar Bear way more than Bob DeLorenzo.
A towering man affectionately known as “Big D” and “Papa Bear,” DeLorenzo was the heartbeat of FSHS sports for six decades.
In the 1950s, he was a star lineman in football and a state champion wrestler as a senior heavyweight under Bill Kerr.
In the 1960s, following a stellar gridiron career at West Virginia University, he returned to East-West Stadium as a Polar Bear assistant coach.
In the 1970s, he helped Fairmont Senior wrestling crown numerous individual state champs and took over the Polar Bear football program at the dawn of the decade.
In the 1980s, he led FSHS to the pinnacle of West Virginia prep football before losing to, of all teams, rival North Marion in the 1981 state title game.
In the 1990s, he served as the school’s athletic director until his retirement in 1997.
And even in his final years, up until his untimely death in November 2006, DeLorenzo was still active on the state Secondary School Activities Commission Appeals Board and remained one of the bigger Polar Bear backers in the Friendly City, or anywhere else on the planet.
“When you think of Fairmont Senior High School athletics, you think of Bob DeLorenzo,” current Fairmont Senior teacher and coach Mark Delligatti, who played football for DeLorenzo in the late ’70s and early ’80s, said. “He’s Mr. Polar Bear.”
You earn a title like that not by merely being a school supporter, but by pushing students to achieve more.