Tallahassee mourns sports administrative icon Roosevelt Wilson

Roosevelt Wilson (left)

The city of Tallahassee mourns the loss of the legendary former Florida A&M University athletics director, sports information director and journalism professor Roosevelt Wilson, who died at age 78, on Sunday.

Wilson was a perfectionist and strived for excellence according to those who knew him. He was a stern person and always wanted people to do things the right way and demanded it.

A native of Bunnell, Florida he earned the Associate of Arts degree in Business Administration from Volusia County Community College (now Daytona Beach Community College) and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Bethune-Cookman University. He also earned a Master of Science in Mass Communication from Florida State University and has done further study at FAMU and the University of Florida.

Wilson was a high school English teacher and professional journalist for six years before joining the public relations staff at FAMU in 1969. He also served FAMU as Sports Information Director, Director of University Publications, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and a member of the faculty of the Division of Journalism and Graphic Communications from which he retired in 2003.

Wilson is survived by his wife and three children. Vaughn Wilson, one of his three children and Director of Rattler Productions, remembers the kind of impact his father had on Tallahassee.

“Dad was very impactful in Tallahassee. It was three-fold. In athletics, he was the first black to hold a significant position in CoSIDA. He was also responsible for training some of the best journalists in the area, which includes Shonda Knight. He also taught and had a mentor relationship with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.”

“I’ve been lucky to even be in his presence. He was so talented, yet very humble. Mr. Wilson had a charismatic charm and had a smile that was contagious,” said Kenneth Johnson, FAMU alumnus. “I’m a professor at FSU and I am thankful to have gained some knowledge from Wilson.”

In 2008 Wilson was presented with the Sally Latham Award by the Florida Press Association for the state’s best weekly newspaper column in 2007, in which he advocated compensation for a man wrongly imprisoned for 24 years.

Florida A&M is proud to have produced an advocate for not only sports, but also the field of journalism.

In addition, the Capital Outlook was cited by the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce for business excellence and Wilson has been presented awards for community service by the Tallahassee Branch of the NAACP, Frontiers International, the FAMU Booster Club, the FAMU National Alumni Association, and numerous other organizations. Also, he has been presented the advocacy Award by the Tallahassee Chapter of 100 Black Men of America and The Tallahassee Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Inc.

In 2003 Wilson was presented the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award by Florida A&M University. The Community Leadership Award by the Ray of Hope United Methodist Church and the Written History Award by the Southeast Regional African American Heritage Preservation Alliance.

Vaughn Wilson is currently at FAMU following in his father’s footsteps. Inspiring students and faculty, Vaughn motivates his colleagues every day.

“He inspired me every single day. He was a stern father, administrator and teacher, but for all those he impacted, they are all grateful that he prepared them for life,” said Wilson.