Notable Chapter Brothers


Bro. Roland N. Patterson (1929 - 1982)

posted Mar 12, 2015, 3:35 PM by Salim Mayberry

Dr. Rolland N. Patterson is a native of Washington D.C. and earned his B.A degree from New York University and his master’s and doctorates from Columbia University.  He began his teaching career in Seattle in 1952, later taught and was a vice-principal and principal in Montclair, N.J.  He later returned to Seattle in 1968 as principal at Meany Junior High school.

In 1969 Dr. Patterson was appointed by the Seattle School District to the new post of Central Area School Administrator, becoming its first Black Assistant Superintendent.  The position was created in response to threatened legal action by the NAACP for school desegregation and highlighted a community-based, black controlled approach to education.  Dr. Patterson developed and the School Board adopted the Middle School Desegregation Plan on November 11, 1970, in the first phase of a three-phase effort to desegregate the city by 1973.

In 1971, Dr. Patterson was appointed the 1st Black Superintendent of the Baltimore School District.  Notorious for his no-nonsense approach, Dr. Patterson’s forceful leadership style while reorganizing the school district raised many eyebrows and by 1975 was forced out of his position.  To his credit Dr. Patterson was ahead of his time with his vision of the district and years later many have come to revere his time as Superintendent.  Today, Patterson  Sr. Academy in Baltimore and PS 230 - Dr. Roland N Patterson School in New York City bear his name. He is survived by his wife, Marion Patterson; a son, Roland Jr., and a daughter, Doris Patterson, all of Baltimore.

Bro. Meredith Mathews (1919 - 1992)

posted Mar 9, 2015, 4:58 PM by Salim Mayberry

Meredith Mathews, born in Thomaston, Georgia, received his B.S. degree from Wilberforce University in Ohio and pursued graduate studies at Ohio University.   He began a lifelong association with Young Men’s Christian Association in 1937 as Director of the Spring Street YMCA in Columbus, Ohio and continued his professional career with the organization in Oklahoma City and McAlester, Oklahoma.

Mr. Mathews arrived in Seattle in October 1957, as Executive Director of the East Madison YMCA.  The fund raising and business management skills he had developed in Oklahoma were used to expand services, memberships and programs at the Seattle branch.  A new facility was built in 1965 after a successful Capital Funds Campaign under his leadership.  He was appointed Associate Executive of the Pacific Northwest Area Council of YMCAs in 1965.  In 1971 he was named Regional Executive of the Pacific Region of YMCAs and was responsible for oversight of 126 facilities and programs in 11 states.  He retired after 39 years of outstanding service to the YMCA. 

Community groups as well as the YMCA awarded him for his service and for his leadership.  Hundreds of people considered him a role model and an inspiration to them when they were children.  In December 1993, the YMCA of Greater Seattle Board of Directors named the East Madison YMCA the Meredith Mathews East Madison YMCA.  Two years later his name was placed in the YMCA Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts.  -

Bro. John C. Gayton (1935 - 2005)

posted Mar 9, 2015, 4:25 PM by Salim Mayberry

John Cyrus Gayton was the oldest son of John Jacob Gayton (1899-1969) and Virginia Clark Gayton, and grandson of John T. Gayton (1866-1954), early Seattle pioneer. He grew up imbued with the sense of importance of a legacy passed down. His pioneering efforts in the business world, particularly corporate, and activities, civic and community based, have left their mark. In this brief autobiography, Mr. Gayton summarized his life, professional achievements, and services to the community.

John C. Gayton was born in Seattle on June 14, 1931. Like his father, he was baptized in the First African Methodist Episcopal Church. His early years were filled with many activities which included the East Madison YMCA where he was president of Gray and Hi-Y clubs, worked as volunteer staff, and paid staff at Camp Orkila, the first Black to do so. During the growing up years a work ethic was established, a job was held all during youth whether it was a paper route, stock boy, or working as a bus boy or waiter. He was a 1950 graduate of Garfield High School where he was president of the service club, chair of two committees, and first member of his family to win a letter as a member of the track team.

In 1950 while attending Seattle University, he received an appointment to West Point Military Academy, as first alternate. Although he did not go, it was considered quite an honor, the first Black so honored in the Pacific Northwest. In 1951 during the Korean War, he enlisted in the Air Force. After testing high, he was selected to serve with Air Force Security Service, communications intelligence, holding a crypto clearance. He was with the first group of Blacks receiving this training. Sent overseas, he returned with the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, and the Korean Service Medal. While overseas he was also a member of the Far East Command track team.

In 1958, he received his Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Washington -- the only Black in that class. In 1972 he went back to receive a Master's in Business Administration.

In 1958, John was recruited as the first Black to work for Olympia Brewing Company as Company Representative. Not only a first for the industry in the Northwest, but for any major corporation in the Northwest. He went on to become the West Coast representative and coordinator of the African-American market, as such responsible for helping Olympia's first advertising, media, promotional, sales, and community outreach programs directed at the African-American market.

The direct efforts of John Gayton's involvement created jobs where there had never been in Olympia distributorships and business with Black businesses. Other consequences included the first Black general manager of the largest distributorship in Los Angeles (recommended by him as salesman), first beer advertisement by a regional brewery for Ebony Magazine, help in hiring to a sales position a Black that went on to open and become the largest Black beer distributorship in the West. Olympia Brewery with John Gayton created and used for the first time Black models in their advertising. Maya Angelou's show on PBS sponsored by Olympia in 1967 went on to be a huge success and helped her career.

Gayton left Olympia in 1969 the highest ranking Black in the company. While living in California, he was active in political, social, and community affairs. This included Men of Tomorrow, invited to Black Leadership Conference in 1964, 1965. Became ex-officio member, Cal-Pac Association (charter and founding member), largest Black retailers organization in the country.

In 1969 John was hired by United Air Lines Personnel and became a personnel officer of Northwest Region, which included Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Utah. He was the first Black to be hired as such and first hired to management level. Along with regular personnel functions, Gayton was involved with helping work on the first Affirmative Action Program for the region, helped set corporate policy for African-American employees, given responsibility of integrating all Northwest Region stations, which was accomplished. During his stay, substantial minority hiring and promoting was accomplished. He was given promotional and public relations assignments which included the minority community. His recommendations for media advertisement in the minority community resulted in the first for minority papers and radio in the region. While at United Air Lines Gayton represented the company in many community efforts, one of which was United's Loaned Executive to United Way campaign in 1972, thus he became the first of three Black executives to become loaned executives. His production was among the top 10 percent. In 1973 he left to open his own business. The highest ranking Black at United Air Lines NW Region.

In 1973 John opened up his own business consulting firm, John Gayton Associates. Although not wholly Human Resources oriented, much of what is done falls into that category. An emphasis on Affirmative Action activity takes up a lot of the work. Recruitment of management and professionals is included in the business. Major corporations from all over the country have used its services.

From 1980 to 1992 along with his business John worked with Boeing Company as a professional at their Space Center, where he held a top secret clearance, working on top secret projects.

Toward the end of his life, although he was not as involved as once he was in professional, fraternal, and community affairs, he remained an active member of the University of Washington Alumni Association, life member NAACP, Urban League, life member Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, board member Pioneer Association of the state of Washington, and as an active member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

For 31 years John was a board member at Meridith Mathews East Madison YMCA, a legacy started by his grandfather. As a member and chair, two times his commitment has been dedicated. Included among his many awards was the YMCA Kilbourne award, the Meridith Mathews East Madison YMCA John C. Gayton award, and the YMCA of Greater Seattle's special Legacy Award, given on the occasion of its 125th anniversary in 2001.

Gayton's other civic involvements, from a list of many, included chairing the Central Area Citizens Committee and Central Area Motivation Project (CAMP), serving on Seattle Civil Service test board, and being named a delegate to the 1980 White House Conference on Small Business.

John Cyrus Gayton died on Monday November 7, 2005, from complications of cancer and diabetes.

Bro. Alfred Petty (1926 - 2013)

posted Mar 9, 2015, 10:22 AM by Salim Mayberry

Bro. Alfred Petty was born in Asheville, North Carolina on November 25, 1926.  Bro. Petty is a Charter Brother of Zeta Pi Lambda. In 1932, the Petty Family relocated to Washington DC.  Alfred attended Armstrong Technical High School. Thereafter, he was accepted into the Engineering and Architecture schools of Howard University, Ohio State University and MIT.  When he asked his mother which university he should attend, she made it clear that he would be staying right there in Washington DC and attending Howard University thank you.  Alfred graduated from Howard University in 1948 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering.

As a Second Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Infantry, Alfred served in Korea where he worked with the Army Corps of Engineers erecting and dismantling strategic supply route bridges.  He was subsequently stationed out of Ft. Lewis in 1952 where he met his wife Delores Carr who lived in Tacoma, Washington with her Aunt Sue Harris.  He retired from the Army as a Lt. Colonel on November 25, 1986.

After his service, Alfred was one of the first African Americans to be employed by the Boeing Company as a Civil Engineer.  While working full-time, Alfred decided to go back to school, earning a Master of Science Degree in Civil Engineering at the University of Washington.  He also received the Sloane Fellowship Award from the Boeing Company and completed the program for Urban Executives at MIT. In 1972, Mayor Wes Uhlman appointed him as Superintendent of Buildings for the City of Seattle.  Mr. Petty, along with Walter Hundley, was one of the first African Americans to hold the position of Superintendent of a City Department. 

Mr. Petty served in this capacity for eight years, during which he approved the construction plans for many of Seattle’s iconic architectural landmarks, including the Kingdome, the Rainier Tower and the restoration of the Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square.  After his tenure as Superintendent, he returned to his position at Boeing.  Mr. Petty retired from Boeing after 40 years with the Company. He continued his involvement with the Boeing Company as a consultant.

Mr. Petty was an active Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity member who was made in the Beta chapter at Howard University.  He was also a charter member of the Zeta Pi Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha in the city of Seattle. Pledges could be seen tending to Mr. Petty’s lawn and shrubbery from time to time, as he held the position of Dean of Pledges.

Mr. Petty was an active member of the First African Methodist Episcopal Church for nearly 60 years, where he served in many capacities.

Mr. Petty was a long time member of the Seattle Rotary Service Foundation and the Washington Athletic Club.  He was an avid sports fan and an original season ticket-holder for the Seattle Supersonics and the Seahawks.  He also enjoyed his season tickets for Washington Husky football and rarely missed a home game. 

Bro. William L. Booker (1923 - 2013)

posted Mar 7, 2015, 4:27 PM by Salim Mayberry   [ updated Mar 8, 2015, 11:38 AM ]

William Booker was one of the last living original Tuskegee Airmen. Although Mr. Booker faced discrimination as a flight engineer and navigator for the all-black 477th Bombardment Group based at Godman Field, Ky., his family says he never let that experience limit what he became after World War II ended.

In fact, what Mr. Booker could master after the war, according to his wife, Dolores Booker, seemed limitless. Once he graduated from the University of Denver, he became an electrical engineer, a patent-granted inventor and a father who hunted, fished, raised Thoroughbred racehorses, built a boat, taught aviation workshops at schools, coached golf and had a 34-year career at Boeing. An aircraft electrical component he invented received a patent in 1987.

Joining the Tuskegee Airmen’s local chapter in the 1980s and eventually becoming a 10-year president of it allowed him to turn his wartime experience into something that helped future generations overcome racial barriers to success, Dolores Booker said. He traveled across the Pacific Northwest to inspire youth to take advantage of what opportunities lay before them, and he raised thousands of dollars for scholarships every year.

“He really took on selling T-shirts and sweatshirts to support the scholarship fund,” Dolores Booker said. “When he came back from a Boston convention with $5,000 for the scholarship fund, he was so excited. Raising money for that became a pretty big part of our lives.”

Before 1940, African Americans were barred from flying for the U.S. military. Civil-rights organizations and the black press exerted pressure that resulted in the formation of an all African-American pursuit squadron based in Tuskegee, Ala., in 1941. Those involved became known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

But it wasn’t until black veterans started identifying nationally as Tuskegee Airmen in the 1970s, and the opportunity to help others through the organization came up, that Mr. Booker talked much about himself as a black veteran.

His stepdaughter, Leslyn Jones-Petitt, says she didn’t know about his wartime past until she was in high school. The war ended before Mr. Booker’s scheduled deployment to Japan.

“I was amazed. I really hadn’t heard of the Tuskegee story,” said Jones-Petitt, 54. “I knew he was in the aviation industry, that he was an inventor, but had no idea what he was trained to do and how he was treated.”

Dolores Booker said her husband was well-known in the Montlake neighborhood in Seattle where the couple raised their children, and later in Kirkland’s Bridle Trails neighborhood as someone neighbors could call on for help. Their Kirkland neighbors knew Mr. Booker would help in the middle of the night if one of their horses fell sick.

Parkinson’s disease started sapping Mr. Booker’s health and energy about five years ago, but Dolores Booker said her husband enjoyed a full life.

“The first time he ever spent a night in a hospital, he was 80,” she said.

“He was very active; you see all the things he’s done. He did not hesitate to do the things he enjoyed, and we agreed to never fence each other in.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. Booker is survived by children Cliff Mitchell, of Los Angeles, Larry Booker of Seattle, Paula Hatcher, of Kennewick, and Leslyn Jones-Petitt, of Seattle; and seven grandchildren.

Bro. Charles Rolland (1952 - 2012)

posted Mar 7, 2015, 3:13 PM by Salim Mayberry

Charles Rolland was a longtime political activist  and state Democratic Chair who played a key role in electing Norm Rice as Seattle’s first African-American mayor.

Mr. Rolland first rose to prominence in local Democratic politics when he became state director for the 1988 presidential campaign of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who made a strong showing in Washington’s caucuses.

He was tapped later that year to help manage the mayoral campaign for Rice, then a Seattle city councilman. After Rice’s resounding 1989 win, he hired Mr. Rolland as a deputy mayor. Mr. Rolland frequently acted as a “social conscience” for Rice’s administration, advocating for poor and minority communities, Rice recalled “Charles always had a love of politics and community engagement. He was always in the forefront of trying to bring about social change,” said Rice. “I’ll miss him dearly.”

In 1993, Mr. Rolland was elected chairman of the state Democratic Party, becoming the first African American to head either major party in the state. He won through old-fashioned face-to-face politicking, driving an estimated 8,000 miles across the state to woo the 176 party officials eligible to vote.

Two years later, Mr. Rolland was ousted after Democrats suffered major defeats in the 1994 elections. Though that was largely the result of a national Republican wave, Mr. Rolland came under fire from other party leaders, including U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, for lagging in fundraising and organization.

Paul Berendt, who defeated Mr. Rolland for state party chairman, credited his old rival’s important role in the history of the state party. The Jackson campaign, and its Rainbow Coalition, “brought thousands of new people into the Democratic Party — and he was the leader of that.”

“One of the things I learned when I was chair … was that there was a deep, deep well of affection in the party for him,” Berendt said.

The current state Democratic Party chairman, Dwight Pelz, said Mr. Rolland had “a tremendous breadth in terms of his career and his influence.”

Mr. Rolland ran for political office himself in 2000, losing in the Democratic primary in the race for secretary of state.

In recent years, Mr. Rolland worked as a business and political consultant, and was a partner in a bail-bonds business for a while. He frequently did advocacy work for underrepresented communities trying to win more political influence or government contracts.

“He was a true entrepreneur,” said his friend and former business partner Paul Tolliver, who described Mr. Rolland as a “gentle giant” who was a tough negotiator but cared about helping people.

Although he was a large man, friends and family said there had been no indication Mr. Rolland was in poor health. He played racquetball regularly at the YMCA and had long abstained from meat. But he did eat fish and was known for his homemade smoked salmon, among other recipes.

Born into poverty in Chicago, Mr. Rolland graduated from Midland Lutheran College in Nebraska and moved to Seattle in the 1970s to study business at the University of Washington. It was here that he met his wife of more than 30 years, Jacquelyn Moscou.

Moscou, an actress and artistic director at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, said Mr. Rolland was “the mom in our family — he made it possible for me to be who I am.”

While she traveled and worked late, Mr. Rolland baked the chocolate-chip cookies, went to the PTA meetings and created the photo collages for the family’s holiday cards.

“He never missed anything with the kids,” she said.

Mr. Rolland also enjoyed spending time with other kids in the community, coaching youth football and volunteering as a Little League umpire.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Rolland is survived by a daughter, Danielle Moscou-Rolland, of Florence, Italy; and two sons, Marcus Rolland, of Seattle, and Sekou Rolland, of Everett.

Bro. John H. Adams (1927 - )

posted Mar 7, 2015, 12:39 PM by Salim Mayberry   [ updated Mar 7, 2015, 7:21 PM ]

Clergyman and civil rights activist John Hurst Adams was born November 27, 1927 in Columbia, South Carolina to Reverend E.A. Adams and homemaker Charity Nash Adams.  John  Adams graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Columbia, South Carolina and in 1947 earned an A.B. degree in history from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina.  Later, he earned his Bachelor of Sacred Theology (S.T.B.) degree and Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) degree from Boston University School of Theology in 1952 and 1956, respectively. Adams also studied at Harvard University and Union Theological Seminary, as well. He attended Boston University for his theology degree at the same time as Rev. Martin Luther King.  After completing his education at Boston University, Adams served briefly on the teaching faculty of Payne Theological Seminary at Wilberforce University in Ohio. Then in 1956 he was named president of Paul Quinn College in Waco, Texas at age 29.  At the time he was the youngest person named to the presidency of Paul Quinn College and the youngest college or university president in the nation.  Adams remained at the institution until 1962.

Rev. Adams arrived in Seattle in 1962 to become the pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest black church in the state.  He held the pastorate from 1962 until 1968.   While at the church Adams became one of the leaders of the African American civil rights movement in Seattle.  He chaired the Central Area Civil Rights Committee from its founding in 1963 until 1968 and was a co-founder of the country’s first war on poverty agency, the Central Area Motivation Program (CAMP). Along with other local black leadership at that time, Adams participated in what he called “an inner circle” of local civil rights leaders whose coordinated leadership transformed Seattle’s community movement and politics.

While in Seattle Adams won a number of awards for his staunch advocacy for racial justice.  The Seattle Chapter of B’nai B’rith named him Man of the Year in 1964 and the following year, the Seattle Urban League bestowed the same honor upon him.

In 1968, Reverend Adams was moved by his Bishop to serve as pastor of Grant AME Church in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. After four years as a pastor in Los Angeles, he was made Bishop of the AME Church in Texas in 1972.  He served as Bishop in a number of districts including his home district of South Carolina before his retirement in 2004 at the age of 77. While in South Carolina Adams led the successful effort to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House.

Dr. Adams was also Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta.  He has served on the Board of trustees of Allen University, Edward Waters College and Morris Brown College.  He is the founder of the Congress of National Black Churches, Inc., in 1978.

John Hurst Adams and his wife, Dr. Dolly Deselle Adams, a New Orleans native, have three adult children and eight grandchildren.  They currently live in Atlanta, Georgia.

See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aaw/adams-john-h-1927#sthash.wPAlZ3gO.dpuf

Bro. Richard J. McIver (1941 - 2013)

posted Mar 7, 2015, 12:28 PM by Salim Mayberry   [ updated Mar 7, 2015, 7:20 PM ]

Richard J. McIver was first appointed to fill a vacancy on the Seattle City Council in early 1997 and was subsequently reelected to three full four-year terms in 1997, 2001, and 2005.
 
Councilmember McIver, was a fifth-generation Seattleite, was born on June 14, 1941 to Mildred Artis-McIver and William McIver, II.  He attended Horace Mann Elementary School, graduated from James A. Garfield High School, and earned an interdisciplinary BA in Community Development, with major emphasis in finance and urban planning, from Western Washington University, Fairhaven College in Bellingham. In 2003, he was named “Distinguished Alumnus” by the Western Washington University Alumni Association.

Councilmember McIver chaired the Council’s Housing & Economic Development Committee.  McIver and served on the board of the Washington State Housing Finance Commission, a quasi governmental agency working to increase housing affordability and access through the promotion of homeownership and the development of non-profit low income housing.  He also served on the Puget Sound Regional Council’s Economic Development and Operations Committee.

Immediately prior to his 1997 appointment to the Council, McIver was Executive Director of the Washington Association of Community Economic Development (WACED), a statewide association of community-based non-profit organizations committed to revitalization of disadvantaged communities.  McIver also served as Development Director for the Tacoma (Washington) Housing Authority, where he was responsible for acquisition, rehabilitation, development, and construction of affordable housing projects.

In 2009 McIver chose not to stand for reelection.  He sufferered a stroke in 2010 and died in Seattle on March 9, 2013. He is survived by his wife, Marlaina Kiner-McIver, an attorney, and a daughter and son.  

See more at: http://www.blackpast.org/aaw/mciver-richard-1941#sthash.TkVgT90G.dpuf

Bro. John H. Vassell, M.D.

posted Mar 7, 2015, 12:21 PM by Salim Mayberry

John Vassall, M.D., is a board-certified internist and Chief Medical Officer for Swedish. As such he serves as the Chief Safety Officer for Swedish, and oversees the Department of Patient Safety and Quality.   He is liaison between Swedish Medical Staff and Swedish Administration and oversees the management of medical education, medical research, medical staff services, clinical effectiveness, regulatory compliance, epidemiology, infection control, employee health, risk management and other areas associated with medical affairs.

Dr. Vassall has been on staff since 1984. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin and Master of Science degree from the University of Washington (UW), where he also graduated from the School of Medicine. He completed his internship at Grady Memorial Hospital and his internal medicine residency at Emory University Affiliated Hospitals in Atlanta. He is a graduate of the UW Medicine Certificate Program in Medical Management and of the UW Foster School of Business Executive Development Program. Dr. Vassall completed the Advanced Training Program in Health Care Delivery Improvement sponsored by Intermountain Health Care Institute for Healthcare Delivery Research in Salt Lake City Utah in 2008. He was former division chief of general internal medicine, associate medical director for managed care and president (1993-1995) of Minor & James Medical where he was voted "Most Valuable Physician" in 2006. Dr. Vassall served as President of the medical staff of Providence Seattle Medical Center before it was acquired by Swedish to become the Cherry Hill Campus and served as Swedish Chief of Staff from 2005 to 2007.

He served for 15 years as Vice-Speaker and Speaker of the House of Delegates for the Washington State Medical Association and is a member of the Boards of Trustees for both the Washington State Hospital Association and the Washington State Medical Association. In 2006 Dr. Vassall was recognized in the state of Washington as Internist of the Year for outstanding clinical skills and leadership by his peers, the Washington chapter of the American College of Physicians.  Dr Vassall is a Seattle University trustee, a member of the Swedish Foundation Board of Governors and serves nationally as a member of the American Hospital Association Board of Trustees.

Bro. Leonard R. Wilkens (1937 - )

posted Mar 7, 2015, 12:09 PM by Salim Mayberry   [ updated Mar 7, 2015, 7:19 PM ]

Leonard Randolph Wilkens was born in Brooklyn, New York, on October 28, 1937, son of an African American father and white mother. He grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section, one of the toughest sections in the city, where he endured many hardships, including the loss of his father at a young age, poverty, and racism.

A sympathetic priest encouraged him to play basketball for Boys High School in Brooklyn.  His basketball skills helped him win a scholarship to Providence College, a small Catholic institution in Rhode Island. Wilkens helped the college win a berth in the National Invitational Tournament (NIT) in 1959 and again during his senior year in 1960.  Although Providence College did not win the championship in 1960, Wilkens was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the Tournament.  

Soon after he graduated in 1960 Wilkens was chosen by the St. Louis Hawks in the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft.  Over the next eight years with the Hawks he firmly established himself as an invaluable team player. Between 1960 and 1970 he was voted to nine all-star teams and in 1968 finished second to Wilt Chamberlain for the NBA’s MVP Award.

Wilkens was traded to the Seattle Super Sonics in 1968 and one year later became the player-coach. In his new position he led the Sonics to their first winning season in 1971-72.

Wilkens left coaching behind in 1972 to concentrate on playing with the Cleveland Cavaliers for two seasons. He again became player-coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, beginning in 1974. After a 15-year playing career he retired from playing in 1975 and stayed on to coach the Trail Blazers for one more season. He ranks among the all-time leaders in assists, free throws, and was named MVP in the 1971 All-Star game.

When Lenny Wilkens returned to Seattle as head coach midway through the 1977-78 season, he took over a team with a dismal record, but by season’s end he had coached the Sonics to the NBA finals.  In his eight seasons with the Sonics the team won its only NBA Championship in 1979 and compiled a record of 357-277 for a winning percentage 56.3. After one season as the Sonics general manager, Wilkens signed on as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers. He engineered a miraculous turn around for the Cavaliers during his seven seasons in Cleveland. While considering his retirement Wilkens received an attractive five-year contract from the Atlanta Hawks; he coached that team to the Central Division Championship and was named NBA Coach of the Year in 1994.  He remained at Atlanta until 2000.

When the NBA celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1996, Wilkens was the only man to be named one of the fifty greatest players and one of the top ten coaches in league history. Lenny Wilkens was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame as a player on May 9, 1989 and as a coach on October 2, 1998.

Lenny Wilkens coached Toronto in 2000-2003 and New York in 2004-2005.  In November 2006 Wilkens was hired as Vice Chairman of the Seattle Super Sonics ownership group and later name President of Basketball Operations.  Wilkens resigned from the Sonics organization on July 6, 2007 at the age of 69.

During his years as a player and coach in the NBA, Wilkens has collected one Coach of the Year Award, an NBA championship ring, two Olympic gold medals, and been named one of the top players and top ten coaches in NBA history.  Wilkens lives with his family in Medina, a Seattle, Washington suburb. 

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