Community remembers Linwood Sexton

WICHITA, Kan. Former Shocker halfback Linwood Sexton has died at the age of 90.

Sexton enrolled at the University of Wichita in 1944 on a full-ride football scholarship when few African Americans were even permitted to attend college, the university says in an article that announced a scholarship in his name.

Sexton is the father of former Wichita State University athletic director Eric Sexton, who served the role for several years before stepping down in 2016.

Thursday, Eyewitness News heard from those who remember Sexton for his character, even more than the records he broke on the field.

"Every person he touched, he made them better. He made me better just knowing him," says Mark McCormick with the Kansas African American Museum.

McCormick says Sexton never boasted about his accomplishments.

"He was a man of genuine humility," he says. "He used to say, 'Why do I need credit for something I'm supposed to do anyway?'"

Sexton was one of the first black football players to play for the Shockers. In the 1940's, he wasn't allowed to compete in certain road games due to his race or stay in hotels with his white teammates.

But, McCormick says, that never stopped Sexton from competing.

"Someone who lived through that era might come through it, rightfully bitter, but he just seemed so affable, and he was always about rising above those kinds of things, not wanting a lot of notoriety for himself," McCormick says.

Sexton taught at L'ouverture Elementary School for several years before becoming a businessman. McCormick says Sexton found joy in mentoring younger generations.

Sexton was a legend and one of the most loved and respected sports heroes in state history.

"He really cared about other people. He cared about the community. He cared about his kids," McCormick says. "He was just a tremendous person. I'm heartbroken for (Sexton's son) Eric and (Eric Sexton's wife) Kathy, and for the community and what we lost."

Eric Sexton thanked the community for its love and support for his father, who he says loved Wichita as much as the community loved him.

Linwood Sexton's jersey, No. 66, is retired at Wichita State. He is one of two players to have his jersey retired at the university. Sexton was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.

A memorial service is set for April 8 at Koch Arena.