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History of Wilberforce University: Gaston Lewis

Gaston "Country" Lewis, 1903-1989

Gaston Lewis image

               Gaston Lewis on the track

Biography

Major Accomplishments

  • Among the coaching staff for the 1968 U.S. Olympic Track and Field team

Gaston Lewis was born on August 4, 1903. He was a phenomenal football, basketball, and track coach for several HBCUs, and his legacy as a triumphant African American Olympic coach is well-known. He is a Wilberforce alumnus.

Lewis was well-regarded as a coach and athletic administrator. He had 32 years of combined service as a teacher and coach of football, basketball, and track and field at Alabama State College, Wilberforce University, and Central State University. He served as the manager for the track and field competition of the 1967 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, and was an assistant track coach for the 1968 U.S. Olympic team that competed in Mexico City.

Lewis returned to his alma mater to coach football and track after completing 8 successful years at Alabama State. He spent 20 years at Central State building the athletic department and recruiting scholar athletes. In 1957, after 44 years as a coach, he was offered a position in 1968 to become a member an official member of the United States Track and Field Olympic team. In October of 1968, Lewis was mentioned in an issue of Ebony magazine.

Lewis returned to his alma mater to coach football and track after completing 8 successful years at Alabama State. He spent 20 years at Central State building the athletic department and recruiting scholar athletes. In 1957, after 44 years as a coach, he was offered a position in 1968 to become a member an official member of the United States Track and Field Olympic team. In October of 1968, Lewis was mentioned in an issue of Ebony magazine.

Lewis died on November 28, 1989 at the age of 86. At the time of his death, he was the country’s senior African American athletic director and coach. The Wilberforce University Alumni Association named the gymnasium in its Alumni Mulitplex the “Gaston F. Lewis Arena.” Central State University renamed its Beacom Gymnasium the “Beacom-Lewis Gymnasium” in his honor.

Contibutor: Quanita Fair