Wade Walker

Roster Info

Season Class # Pos Ht Wt
1946
1947 (C)
1948 (C)
1949

Personal Info

First Name: Wade
Middle Name: Hampton
Last Name: Walker
Common Name:
Nickname:
Hometown: Gastonia, NC
High School:
Birth Date/Place: November 29, 1923
Death Date/Place: December 18, 2013 in La Quinta, CA (age 90)
Related To:
Obituary:

(The Desert Sun) Wade Hampton Walker, 90, former All-American football player and athletic director at the University of Oklahoma, died peacefully in his home on Wednesday, December 18, 2013. Walker was born on November 29, 1923, to George and Ella Walker in Mocksville, North Carolina. Walker's extensive athletic career started early as he received All-State honors as a high school football player in Gastonia, N.C. Following high school, he was drafted into the U.S. Navy during World War II, and served as a machinist. Walker was stationed at the Jacksonville, Fla., U.S. Naval Air Station, where his football career resumed for the next three years. After completing his tour of duty, Walker was recruited by his former football coach Jim Tatum to play at the University of Oklahoma. He played for four years, and was showered with multiple honors and accolades. Walker was named Big Six All-Conference player all four years, Oklahoma Player of the Year and first-team All-American in 1949. He also served as co-captain of his Sooner team under Bud Wilkinson and led them to a Sugar Bowl victory in 1949. He was selected by the Chicago Cardinals in the NFL draft, but opted to pursue a coaching career instead. Walker held jobs as an assistant coach at both North Carolina State University and Texas Tech University. He was then recruited by his best friend and teammate, Darryl Royal, to be an assistant coach at Mississippi State University in 1954. He was promoted to head coach in 1956 and named Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year in 1957. Walker also served as athletic director at Mississippi State until 1966. During his tenure, Walker was instrumental in breaking down racial segregation in sports. In 1963, he defied a court order, issued by the governor, to help the MSU men's basketball team (all white) to travel north and play a NCAA tournament game against Loyola of Chicago (containing African-American players). Walker later commented, "There I was, acting like a fugitive and running from the law because I was doing something I believed was right." Walker returned to the University of Oklahoma in 1971 to become the school's athletic director. During his tenure, the Sooners compiled six national championships in both men's and women's sports. Walker served as Athletic Director until he retired in 1986. He moved to La Quinta, California to live out his life, where he frequently stated "every day in the desert is like Christmas". Walker is survived by his beloved wife Jean Herman Walker, married for 65 years. He is survived by five children: Carol (Roger) Simmons of Vicksburg, Miss.; Ron (Karen) Walker of Carrollton, Texas; Gary (Debbie) Walker of La Quinta, Calif.; Anne (Paula) Walker of Lancaster, Calif.; Win (Mandy) Walker of Mount Pleasant, S.C. Walker is also survived by sixteen grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 28, 2013, at 2 p.m. at the Palm Desert Community Presbyterian Church. A reception will follow the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, donations made to the Coachella Valley Rescue Mission or the Alzheimer's Association Research Foundation or a charity of your choice.

Notes

  • A (C) indicates that the player was a captain for that season (named before each game in 1982, and 1995 through 1998).
  • Related To refers to other OU athletes only.
  • Calculations for career totals will be skewed if the season totals are incomplete.