12 selected for VIA Heritage Association 2019 Hall of Fame
Fred Jeter | 2/1/2019, 6 a.m.
The Virginia Interscholastic Association’s 2019 Hall of Fame is glowing with noted Richmonders.
Basketball legends Bobby Dandridge and Charles Bonaparte, football coaching icon Willard Bailey and Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will be among the inductees at a ceremony in Charlottesville on June 28.
The VIA served as the governing body for the Virginia’s African-American high schools from 1954 to 1970 during state-imposed racial segregation. The VIA Heritage Association, which sponsors the hall of fame, operates out of Charlottesville with Jimmy Hollins as chairman.
This is the VIA Heritage Association’s fourth hall of fame class. Selections are made based on achievements both during and after high school. The 2019 Hall of Fame honorees are:
• Robert “Bobby” Dandridge (Richmond’s Maggie Walker Class of 1965): He went on to star at Norfolk State University and was a key man for the NBA championships in Milwaukee in 1972 and Washington in 1978.
• Charles Bonaparte (Richmond’s Armstrong High School Class of 1965): He joined Dandridge at Norfolk State and helped the Spartans to an 88-16 record for four years. He was the 35th overall pick in the 1969 NBA draft by the San Diego Rockets.
• Coach Willard Bailey (Booker T. Washington High School in Suffolk): After a stellar athletic career at Booker T. Washington High School in Suffolk and NSU, he went on to post 238 football coaching victories at Virginia Union University, NSU, St. Paul’s College and Virginia University of Lynchburg.
The Tri-Cities are also well-represented in VIA’s most recent class:
• Coach Carl Peal (Peabody High School in Petersburg): He coached basketball, football, baseball and golf at Peabody High School. At Petersburg High School, where he coached Moses Malone, he guided the Crimson Wave to a 50-0 record and two State AAA titles in 1973 and 1974.
• William Albert “W.A.” Brown (Peabody High School in Petersburg): He served as principal at four VIA schools — Peabody High School in Petersburg, Russell Grove in Amelia, Nottoway Training Center and Carver in Chesterfield County.
• Cheryl Anthony Epps (Southside High School in Dinwiddie): She was valedictorian of the Class of 1966 at Southside High School and went on to become a prominent attorney.
• Judge Roger L. Gregory (Peabody High School in Petersburg): He became a federal judge and now serves as chief justice of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
• Benjamin “Benny” Brown (Carter G. Woodson School in Hopewell): He was a standout basketball point guard for Woodson and later at Virginia State University.
Other Class of 2019 honorees:
• Warren Canada (Dunbar High School in Lynchburg, Class of 1963): He set numerous scoring and rebounding records for Dunbar High, earning the tag “miniature Wilt Chamberlain.”
• Fred Harold “Doc” Sawyer (Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk, Class of 1957): He was an All-State football linebacker for Booker T. Washington and later starred at Norfolk State University.
• Louis Richard Harris (Parker-Gray High School in Alexandria, Class of 1963): He was an outstanding football defensive back at Parker-Gray High and Kent State University and later played for the NFL Pittsburgh Steelers.
• James H. “Blue” Earley (Dunbar High School in Lynchburg): He was an All-State football player at Dunbar High and North Carolina A&T State University, where he made All-CIAA.
Details and tickets: www.viaheritage.com. The deadline for submitting nominations for the Class of 2020 is Sept. 30. Send to Hollins at firstname.lastname@example.org.