This week, I get to write about one of my all-time favorite people – Herman Lasker.
I know many others join me in my admiration and respect for this gentleman.
Affectionately known by most as coach Lasker, he has left a lasting impression on countless people in Faulkner County.
So it is quite appropriate that he will serve as the Grand Marshall of the 2019 Faulkner County Fair Parade next week.
Lasker retired in 1998 from the Conway Public School district after 33 years of service. He was voted Teacher of the Year during 1980-81.
The Conway Public Schools Foundation named Lasker their 2017 Distinguished Educator at their annual Hall of Honor Gala.
Lasker graduated from Conway’s segregated Pine Street High School in 1961.
The following passage is from the Log Cabin Democrat’s “Yesterdays” section in 2010, reflecting back 50 years to September 1960:
Halfback Herman Lasker caught one touchdown pass and ran for another six-pointer as “Pine Street’s Polar Bears whipped Lincoln High of Forth Smith, 13-7. Pine Street jumped into a 7-0 early in the game. After moving to the Pirates’ 30, fullback Carl Joe Robinson passed to Lasker on the 13-yard line. Three more players moved the ball to the 5 and on the fourth down, Robinson hit Lasker in the end zone. With six minutes remaining, the running of Robinson and Laker put the ball on the 8. Two penalties moved it closer and Lasker crashed through for the winning touchdown. The victory was Pine Street’s first of the season.”
Lasker continued his education at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, where he played football for the Panthers.
He graduated in 1965.
Lasker got into education — teaching and coaching briefly back at Pine Street and at Conway Junior High.
But the bulk of his career was spent at Conway High School.
He continued coaching at CHS for a while, but then settled into the physical education department where he made a lasting impact on thousands of students over the years.
He started the school’s intramural program, which became an extremely popular organization.
It was a great outlet for students of all abilities to play sports and stay active.
My senior year in high school, I played intramural basketball with some buddies.
The games were in the morning, before school.
I guess I can admit the following now, since it’s been over 30 years.
I had first period study hall, so instead of starting the school day all sweaty, I would just skip study hall to go home and shower, then return clean and fresh for second period.
Coach Lasker was a great role model for all students, but especially for African-Americans.
Having a black male on campus doing what he did was a great influence on so many, both black and white.
He treated everyone equally and fairly. He demanded, and taught, discipline and respect.
The fair parade will begin at 5 p.m. Sept. 17.
Bring the kids out to downtown Conway to see a great Faulkner County tradition, and to see a great man honored.