Leroy T. Walker: a Man of Many Firsts

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Dr. Leroy T. Walker
A Man of Many Firsts

Good morning colleagues and friends. It is with pride, pleasure, and gratefulness that I have this opportunity to share the accolades of a great educator, coach, administrator, author, and humanitarian: Dr. Leroy T. Walker. It is particularly an honor because the first time I heard Dr. Walker speak was at the first Leroy T. Walker breakfast in ____ in 19__. The theme of his talk was “Excellence without Excuse,” a simple, but powerful three words that I will never forget.
The grandson of slaves and the youngest of 13 children, LeRoy Walker was born on June 14, 1918, in Atlanta, Georgia where he resided until the death of his father when he was nine. He then moved to Harlem with his older brother Joe until his senior year in high school when he returned to Georgia. While living with Joe, Leroy worked in the family's barbeque restaurant and window cleaning businesses during the Great Depression. Big brother Joe instilled a strong work ethic and an attitude of perseverance; never permitting him to rationalize in spite of hard times and prejudice.
The first in his family to go to college, Dr. Walker enrolled at Benedict College, an historically black church-related college in Columbia, South Carolina in 1936 where he majored in science and romance languages and graduated with honors in 31/2 years. He lettered in basketball, track and field, and football, earning 11 letters. Walker, who did not play football in high school, tried out for football during his junior year on a dare. He proved to be a natural player and became a backup quarterback. When an injury sidelined the starting quarterback during that same year, he stepped in and led his team to a conference championship and was named a football All-American by the Pittsburgh Courier, the first such honor bestowed on a Benedict player.
At the conclusion of Walker's…...

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