Late African-American golfer receives state honor

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - It was an unforgettable moment for many Saturday at the Oakwood Country Club in Lynchburg. Folks spent the day remembering a local African-American golfer who meant so much to his community.

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Family members and former students came together at Oakwood Country Club to honor Morris Stanley Alexander, and they watched the unveiling of a historical highway marker that recognizes all his achievements.

Carolyn Rice and Vincell McAllister are Alexander's first two granddaughters. They grew up watching him play and teach golf every summer at Oakwood Country Club, where he worked as a longtime golf professional and the club's first caddymaster in the mid-1900s.

"We spent probably 18 years of every summer with our grandfather and grandmother," Rice said.

Alexander's family says he taught golf for more than 50 years, when the club was all white during the segregation era.

"He started to break down the barriers. He didn't see black or white, he was just a golfer, he was there to do a job, he was there to help you, and he was going to make sure you were good at it," McAllister said.

That's what he proved to do when he tied the course record in 1928 and led four of his students to win championships. One of those students, Ned Baber, came to the club Saturday to see the Virginia Department of Historic Resources dedicate a historical highway marker to Alexander.

"It's really important that he got recognized for what he did for so long," Baber said.

A historian, along with Alexader's family and former students, spoke at the unveiling. His family then took photos with the new sign, beaming with pride.

"We're very happy that the city and Oakwood Country Club has recognized what a wonderful man he was, all the things that he did for golf, but also how he encouraged more minorities to participate in the game of golf," Rice said.

The state historical highway marker will stay up outside Oakwood Country Club, so all passersby can honor and remember Morris Stanley Alexander (1881 - 1977).

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