Foreword – Bobby’s Memoir

The following Foreword has been submitted to appear in the upcoming biography of Bobby Gersten — Bobby G: A Life Worth Celebrating set for release in late Spring of 2018.

Bobby Gersten and William Thorpe


UNC Walk for Health

(Photo courtesy of CBS North Carolina)


I am a comparative newcomer in the life of Bobby Gersten, helping him to start and develop a new initiative called UNC Walk for Health. This program began as our own two-person organization in 2015 based on the simple premise that all people, of all ages, can improve their health by simply walking for just 30 minutes a day!

I first met Bobby in 2013 and by repeated contacts and conversations with him, it became perfectly clear to me that he has spent his entire life in perpetual physical and athletic movement that has promoted his own life’s motto: “Good health through active movement!”

With his effervescent and gregarious personality, Bobby has been the best representative to spread our core message of healthy, active living as the key to longevity. He turned 97 years of age in 2017 and realized, more than ever, that walking was the safest and easiest activity for people of all ages to develop and maintain their good health.  He and I also realized that Bobby, having been a star player for the University of North Carolina’s basketball and baseball teams, going as far back as the late 30’s and early 40’s, would be the perfect ambassador to promote the concept of “walking for better health”, especially in Chapel Hill, the very home of UNC!

I soon recognized that Bobby, as UNC’s oldest living athlete, needed a befitting personalized title that would not only adequately convey his deep and longtime ties to the UNC athletic program, but would also express his commitment to helping fulfill the official mission of his beloved alma mater, that is, improving the quality of life for people in this society and solving the biggest problems on the planet. I, then, affectionately made up and bestowed upon him his new moniker “The Great-Granddaddy of UNC Athletics”! Consequently, UNC Walk for Health revolves around him. Our events serve as an inspiration and stimulus to people of all ages, from young people in the dawn of life to old folk in the sunset of life — it’s never too late to sneaker up and walk to improve your health.

But, this concept and this program just open the doors, wider and wider on Bobby’s entire life, to reveal an impressive array of achievements and accomplishments that make him, not only an exceptional athlete, but an exceptional founder, leader and educator throughout his entire life span.

He has been a remarkable teacher, coach, college dean, recruiter, educator, board of education member, camp director, and an all-around dynamic leader, who has impacted the lives of many, many people. What better way to tell his complete story that has so many facets, so many layers, all of which can enrich the lives of its readers in many profound ways.

I believe you will benefit from knowing the full array of his remarkable life’s activities, and its invaluable life-lessons contained in this biography.

The best thing that can be said about a person is that he or she made the world around them a better place in which to live. For those of us who have interacted with Bobby, we are eternally grateful that the universal Creator sent him here in this dispensation of time to help uplift a fallen humanity.

In the card game of poker, there is a ranking system that determines the strength of a hand that a player possesses. For example, there’s three of a kind or better yet, four of a kind. Well, Robert Selwyn Gersten, you are one of a kind and by knowing more about you, we all play the winning hand.

William Thorpe

Co-Founder and Director

UNC Walk for Health

February, 2018