On Nov. 21, 1953, at Keefe Stadium in Brockton, Everett High football captain Bob Marques contributed to his team’s 40-7 victory over Brockton High with an interception and 80-yard return for a touchdown.
The 225-pound linebacker then ran straight into the crowd and took a seat to catch his breath, explaining in a 2002 Globe interview, “I wasn’t used to running that far back then. I’m still reminded of it two or three times a year.’’
Mr. Marques, who played center and linebacker at Boston University and, in 1960, for the New York Titans of the American Football League, returned as an adult to his hometown, where he spent more than 30 years at Everett High School as a physical education teacher, assistant athletic director, and then vice principal.
Mr. Marques, who retired from the school system in 1999, died of kidney failure Jan. 5 at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was 76.
Two months ago, Mr. Marques was invited to sit behind the Everett High bench for the Homecoming Day game against Xaverian. He was warmly greeted by the coaching staff, former colleagues, and city officials.
“It meant a lot to him to be remembered and it showed how popular he was,’’ recalled Mr. Marques’s close friend, Richard Aliberti of Cotuit. “I was in guidance and he was in charge of discipline and we worked closely together at the high school. He was well-respected, straightforward, and had a lot of integrity. He’d speak his mind, but never behind your back.’’
Everett High football coach and athletic director John DiBiaso, whose 13-0 team won the 2011 Super Bowl, said Mr. Marques was imposing but a caring mentor with a special affinity for students in need of a father figure.
“I think that’s because he lost his own father at a young age,’’ said DiBiaso. “He was very close to Dan Ross, the great tight end out of Everett High whom Bob helped get into Northeastern because he knew their head coach, Bo Lyons, and arranged for a scholarship for Dan.’’
Ross was an All-American end at Northeastern and a standout National Football League player, primarily with the Cincinnati Bengals, and a 1982 selection to the Pro Bowl. He died in 2006.
“Bob reached out to many others, but always behind the scenes, and he loved Everett High football because that was also his path to college,’’ said DiBiaso.
“I know it meant a lot to our team and to Bob when our superintendent, Fred Forestiere, chose him as our annual former athlete to sit near our bench on Homecoming Day.’’ Everett defeated Xaverian that day, 42-21, en route to the Division 1A title. “And he was a great mentor to myself and my wife when we were young teachers.’’
Don Concannon of Everett, an assistant principal at the high school, was also witness to Mr. Marques’s caring nature. “When I was head hockey coach at the high school, one of my players couldn’t afford to go to the senior prom,’’ said Concannon. “Bob found out about it and handed me a $100 bill for him. He did it without calling attention to himself.’’
While at BU, Mr. Marques played on the last Terriers’ team to defeat Boston College, 26-7, in 1959. His second professional game with the Titans - against the Boston Patriots at the Polo Grounds in New York - was memorable because of Boston’s last-second win. Titans punter Rick Sapienza, also an Everett native, who had played at Villanova, fumbled a punt snap; the Patriots recovered the football and ran it in for the improbable victory.
The Patriots are now the New England Patriots and the Titans were later renamed the New York Jets.
“Dad told me a lot of stories about that game and how he was really into it. It was his first start as a pro and the first year of the AFL,’’ said Mr. Marques’s son Christopher, of Union, Ky., a linebacker and defensive end at Syracuse University in the mid-1990s who played in three bowl games. “More importantly, he taught me about hard work, determination, setting goals, being accountable, and sacrificing for family, which he certainly did.
“A lot of my success came because of him. Dad drove me to hockey practice and to the park, where he’d teach me about football. He was a disciplinarian at home who expected a lot in return from his children. But he was also a humble man.’’
Mr. Marques, who held golf memberships at Indian Ridge Country Club in Andover and Ferncroft Country Club in Danvers, enjoyed golf excursions to St. Augustine, Fla., in recent years. He moved to Naples, Maine, in 2005, then moved to Danvers last year.
Mr. Marques had met his wife of 46 years, Rosemary (Scola), through John Iozza, his BU teammate and future brother-in-law.
“My sister was dating John and after the two of us got back from shopping, we all got together,’’ she said. “Bob was a private person, very loyal and dedicated, if you were his friend.’’
Iozza, who also played football at Everett High and now resides in Medford, described Mr. Marques as an aggressive, hard-nosed player.
“He let the other team know he was in the game and he never missed an opportunity to hit an opponent,’’ said Iozza. “And while he wasn’t our captain at BU, he was looked up to. He was fast and quick for a man of his size and he usually played the entire 60 minutes.’’
BU dropped its football program after the 1997 season.
Robert A. Marques graduated from Everett High in 1954 and attended the University of Tennessee and Cheshire Academy in Connecticut before enrolling at BU. He graduated in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in education. He received his master’s in education at Boston State College.
He coached football briefly as an assistant at Northeastern University and Everett High under the legendary Moody Sarno before focusing on his administrative duties at the high school.
In addition to his wife and his son Christopher, Mr. Marques leaves two other sons, Gary of North Reading and Robert of Newington, Conn.; a daughter, Kimberly Varga of Ipswich; 11 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
A funeral Mass will be said today at 10 a.m. at St. Anthony Church in Everett. Burial will be at a later date at Oak Grove Cemetery in Medford.