Coaching legend Fisher DeBerry visits Rock Hill next week to headline the annual Boy Scouts fundraiser dinner.
DeBerry, who retired in 2006 as football coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy, compiled more wins (169) over a 23-year career than any coach in school history.
So how did he wind up with a speaking engagement in Rock Hill?
Two reasons: DeBerry has roots in South Carolina, and he shares a friendship with local banker Eddie Brown, chairman of the Piedmont region of Carolina First Bank.
The two met in 1983, when DeBerry hired Brown's brother-in-law, Cal McCombs, to coach the defensive backs at Air Force. Soon after, DeBerry bought a beach house next to Brown's on Isle of Palms, near Charleston.
A Cheraw native, DeBerry played football and basketball at Wofford College before going into coaching.
"More than anything else, the thing that makes Fisher special is the fact he's a little ol' guy, about 5-foot-6, 160 pounds, that grew up in Cheraw, married a girl from his hometown ... and did exceptionally well," Brown said. "Anybody would be proud to call him a friend."
The speech will be Tuesday night at the Pacesetter dinner held in support of some 2,500 Boy Scouts in York County and Indian Land in Lancaster County.
A crowd of about 200 is expected, smaller than in previous years because of the poor economy, organizers said.
Table sponsorships are available for $2,500. The night will include a tribute to Bill Kimbrell, a longtime Scout supporter from Fort Mill who died last month at age 89.
When he retired, DeBerry had the third-longest tenure at one school of any active college coach, after Joe Paterno (43 years at Penn State) and Bobby Bowden (33 years at Florida State).
DeBerry asked not to be paid for his speech -- only for travel expenses, Brown said. Instead, a donation can go to his charitable foundation.
WANT TO GO?
What: Pacesetter dinner to benefit local Scouts
Where: Magnolia Room at Laurel Creek in Rock Hill
When: Tuesday night. Reception at 6, dinner at 7
Tickets: Contact Mike Moore at 803-367-2356