Memorial Service Thursday for John R. Wooden Award Founder Duke Llewellyn

Memorial Service Thursday for John R. Wooden Award Founder Duke Llewellyn

Event to Honor an Amazing Legacy in the Southern California Sports Community

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, July 26, 2010

LOS ANGELES — Richard “Duke” Llewellyn, the chairman and founder of the John R. Wooden Award who passed away last month in Los Angeles at the age of 93, will be honored with a memorial service this Thursday, July 29, at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Llewellyn was a fixture on the Southern California sports scene for more than 70 years, first as an athlete at USC, then as a U.S. military boxing champion, coach and event director, and most recently in his role guiding the John R. Wooden Award to its status as the nation’s top college basketball honor.

After the 3 p.m. service in the Club’s Main Lounge, a no-host buffet dinner will be held in the Main Dining Room where guests may share stories about Duke. Anyone interested in attending either the 3 p.m. event or the dinner, or both, must RSVP to the LAAC at 213-630-5255. The Los Angeles Athletic Club is located at 431 W. Seventh Street in Los Angeles.

Llewellyn and John Wooden, in a remarkable coincidence, passed away the same day, June 4; the two were friends for more than 60 years. Llewellyn founded the John R. Wooden Award for LAAC in 1976 and he stayed on board with the Award through the 2010 season, meeting with sponsors, the players and staff even as he fought several battles with cancer. Llewellyn and Coach Wooden insisted on the Award’s commitment to character and community service that is still important today.

Llewellyn came to the LAAC in 1956 as director of athletics and advanced to a senior vice president role on the management team of Frank and Charles Hathaway. At the Club, he staged the national championship for handball in 1956, and worked with Riviera Country Club, Rivera Tennis Club and the California Yacht Club in facility development.

Beyond his work with the LAAC for 50+ years in many roles, among Llewellyn’s eclectic contributions to sport include serving on the Board of Directors of the World Boxing Hall of Fame for more than 20 years; working as an attaché for his native Bermuda at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles; working as the director of the Southern California Tennis Association; and serving as a college, high school, and junior college football coach and official for several decades.

He was also a member of the 1984 Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games and spent several years in the 1950s as director of municipal sports for the LA City Parks and Recreation Department. In 2000, he was honored by the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles for his “unnoticed contributions to Nikkei sports.”

As an athlete, Llewellyn competed in three sports at USC -football, track and basketball, while earning a BA in physical education in 1940. He placed fourth in the decathlon at the 1936 Olympic Trials, and later played professional football for the Los Angeles Bulldogs, Hollywood Rangers, and Los Angeles Dons.

After training for combat in preparation for World War II, as a master sergeant in the Army, Llewellyn was involved in a landmine accident that injured his leg. While sidelined, he created a sports program to help get troops in shape. He later recovered to become a boxer in the U.S. Army, fighting exhibition matches against World Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis. Llewellyn was the 9th Service Command heavyweight boxing champion in 1944 and 1945.

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