"He had been a man possessed . . . He just could not break away from the thought of Bob," mourned Delores Vorhies, now bereft of both her son and her husband.

Jerome Vorhies, 50, died in South Orange, N.J., Saturday after visiting the grave of Bob Vorhies, who died at 18 on Nov. 21, 1977, in his Virginia Tech dormitory room -- a few hours after coaching staffers ran him through grueling punishment drills at football practice. Medical examiners absolved all.

For two years since, Jerome Vorhies had been trying to prove Tech athletic officials were responsible for his son's death. He filed a $14 million negligence suit against the school. He pressed the Virginia attorney general for review after a special grand jury found no wrongdoing or neglect. Many, many months later he would appear, more than once, in writing or in person, in Richmond badgering for state legislative action.

Medical authorities attributed the death of young Vorhies, a freshman reserve fullback, to a heart malfunction. His father died of congestive heart failure.

Her husband missed their son so much he would "wake up crying and go to bed crying," Mrs. Vorhies said from her Rockaway, N.J., home, vowing to continue the legal battle. "He told me he wanted to see things through . . . I have to go on for both of them."

Jerome Vorhies is to be buried Thursday in the Union, N.J., cemetery where his son lies . . .

When Jack Tatum's book, "They Call Me Assassin," came out last month, Darryl Stingley remarked, "If this sells, all it means is there are more people in America other than Jack Tatum who are sick." Well, Everest House, the publisher in New York, has mailed us a big package of newspaper clips commenting on revelations by the Oakland Raider cruncher plus this information: "While the stories were breaking . . . a second printing of 15,000 was put in the works; as the phones continued to ring, a third printing of 15,000 was ordered; the publisher's warehouse was put on the alert, etc. etc." . . .

Darryl Stingley was in London yesterday, in his wheelchair, to receive a special award for "his commitment to fellow sufferers." The former New England pass catcher said of the prime honor of the occasion, the International Award for Valor in Sport, for which he had been a nominee, "I must admit that after reading of the careers and accomplishments of the others, I didn't feel I stood a chance. After all, I was just trying to do the basic thing in life -- to survive."

Winner of the $220,000 gold laurel wreath (which he will hold for a year while getting an $11,000 replica to keep) as most valorous in 1979 was Jean-Marc Boivin of Chamonix, France. The Alpine guide, 29, lost most of his eyesight in a four-month ascent of a previously unconquered face of the world's second-highest mountain, K2 of the Himalayas -- then, able to distinguish only vague outlines of the terrain -- leaped from 7,600 meters high on the 9,172-meter peak and hang-glided down. . .

New book out by mid-February: "In the O-Zone: A Story of the 1979 American League Champions." A soft-bound account of Baltimore baseball by Bird watchers Skip Dorer and Wayne Kaiser of Arbutus, Md. . . .

Neal Olkewicz, close Redskin watchers remember, graduated from Maryland with a degree in police science, and here he is, a "deputy sheriff I" this offseason -- a nice name for his job at Fairfax County Jail. That's right, the NFL linebacker is a guard now. He wanted to get into law enforcement "on the ground level," he said. He'll work full time, on shifts, "like everbody else" except "he'll be off during football season," said Sheriff Wayne Huggins. . .

The CART-USAC auto racing war has broken out again, CART announcing collapse of reconciliation talks. So CART -- Championship Auto Racing Teams -- will continue to race under a separate banner in '80 as it did in '79 when most of the name owners-mechanics-drivers split with U.S. Auto Club. Once again, though, they'll probably rev it up together in the biggie, the Indianapolis 500.

Otherwise, USAC has fallen farther apart -- now A. J. Foyt, who jumped to CART and back again last year, has rejumped to the dissidents. Foyt is ticked "that USAC didn't consult me in the peace meetings, and that USAC didn't buy the proposal . . . . I'm making no commitments to either group, but I've resigned from USAC, I'm going to run wherever I feel like and pick my races."