‘He was my Martin Luther King’: Linwood Sexton remembered


Matt Crow

Wichita State broadcaster Dave Dahl eulogizes the late Linwood Sexton at a memorial service Saturday in Charles Koch Arena. (Apr. 8, 2017)

More than 300 people gathered at Charles Koch Arena early Saturday morning to remember the life and impact of Linwood Sexton. Sexton, 90, died March 29.

Sexton played football at Wichita East High School before playing for Wichita State from 1944-1947.

In his time at WSU, Sexton gained 1,995 career rushing yards, which remains a top-ten record. Sexton was named a member of the MVC All-Conference Team from 1945-47.

Sexton was one of the first African-Americans to play for an MVC school. He was unable to compete when WSU went to certain schools because of his skin color, sometimes having to stay at a separate hotel as well.

Sexton’s football jersey number, 66, was retired by Wichita State before he graduated.

After leaving Wichita State, Sexton went on to play for the Los Angeles Dons for one season.

The legacy Sexton leaves behind is filled with athletic accolades, but his greatest impact came through his investment of time into the community.

The memorial service was emceed by Mike Kennedy and Dave Dahl, both longtime friends of Sexton and radio commentators.

“With everything else he did and accomplished in life, his athletic career is almost now a long-ago footnote to the person that he was and that I got to know,” Kennedy said.

Sexton returned to Wichita and wanted to teach and become a coach. Because of policies from the city, he was only allowed to work at non-white schools. He taught at L’Ouverture Elementary in Wichita.

After teaching for several years, Sexton moved on to become the Area Sales Manager for Hiland Dairy.

Dahl told a story about Sexton being invited to WSU to speak at an alumni breakfast. After turning down the offer many times, Sexton agreed to participate in a question and answer session with fellow alumni.

“One question was asked,” Dahl said. “That’s all he needed to get him kicked off. He spoke for the next hour and for the first and only time I can remember, nobody left.”

Dahl said it was one of the most well-attended breakfast events the alumni association has hosted.

The Wichita State Foundation oversees the Linwood Sexton Endowed Scholarship which was created to ensure Sexton’s contributions were continuously commemorated.

Eddie Sandoval, a senior studying finance, is a recipient of this full-ride scholarship.

Sandoval, whose sister had received the scholarship ten years before he did, said Sexton was amazing at keeping track of people he had met in the past.

“I came to the interview for [the scholarship] and Linwood looked at me and said, ‘I remember you,’” Sandoval recounted.

Over the past four years, Sandoval said he and Sexton kept in touch and would get together to have lunch every few months.

“I had his number and before I studied abroad I called him and then I called him when I came back,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval smiled as he shared about a time he had met with Sexton to discuss school and how life was going and they ended up talking for over four hours.

“He was the nicest guy you’d ever meet,” Sandoval said.

Charles McAfee, one of Sexton’s closest friends, told several stories about how much Sexton enjoyed serving and supporting those around him. With each story, McAfee spoke about the high level of resilience Sexton showed throughout his entire life.

“Linwood, without a doubt in my mind, is the most dedicated student this university’s ever had; he’s the most dedicated alumni for sure,” McAfee said. “His positive attitude about life transcended color, race, religion — everything.

“In Wichita, Kansas, Linwood Sexton was my Jackie Robinson. In Wichita, Kansas, he was my Martin Luther King.”