Le Roy Walker, Former USOC President, Atlanta Olympics Leader, 93
LeRoy Walker (center) hands then IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch the USOC's official RSVP for the Atlanta Olympics. (Getty Images)
(ATR) LeRoy Walker is being remembered as a pioneer and leader of the Olympic Movement in the U.S. He died at age 93 in Durham, North Carolina.
Walker’s long career in sports included coaching track and field teams in the U.S. and in Africa. He was chancellor of North Carolina Central University in the 1980’s when he joined the board of directors of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Walker, who was born in Atlanta, was one of the early advocates of the bid from the Georgia capital for the 1996 Olympics.
“He believed in the bid,” Charlie Battle tells Around the Rings
. Battle was one of the early organizers of the Atlanta campaign.
“He was a remarkable guy. A real giant in the US Olympic Movement,” says Battle.
Walker became Atlanta’s first sports director soon after the Games were awarded in 1990. In 1992 he left ACOG to become the first black to hold the title of U.S. Olympic Committee president. It was a distinction he said could not be overlooked, at the same time noting that race had nothing to do with h is rise to leadership.
Mike Moran, USOC communications director under Walker, writes that Walker should be counted among the greatest U.S. Olympians.
“Somewhere now in the light and shadows of eternity, there is a terrific reunion going on tonight among
Jackie Joyner-Kersee with Walker at the 2005 IOC Session in Singapore. (Getty Images)
some of America’s greatest track and field athletes, like Jesse Owens, Lee Calhoun, Wilma Rudolph and Willye White” he wrote. “And, they are greeting a newcomer.”
Harvey Schiller, who served as secretary general of the USOC during Walker’s presidency remembers Walker’s wit in a Facebook post.
“He used to introduce us as ‘if you're confused on who is who, Harvey is the tall one!’”
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Dr. LeRoy Walker,” USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said in a statement.
“He devoted himself to the betterment of sport and we were fortunate to have called him our president. Dr. Walker’s significant impact will resonate for generations to come.”
“Chancellor Emeritus Walker was an accomplished figure in athletics and a treasured leader who will be greatly missed,” said Charlie Nelms, chancellor of NCCU.
“He leaves a rich legacy that will continue to live on at NCCU. Our entire university community will keep his daughter, Dr. Carolyn Walker Hopp, and son, LeRoy T. Walker Jr., along with the rest of family in our thoughts and prayers.”
He is preceded in death by his wife, Katherine.
Around the Rings
understands funeral arrangements at the Scarborough & Hargett Funeral Home in Durham, N.C. are still being finalized.
Homepage photo by Getty Images.
Written by Ed Hula.
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