Clifton “Gator” Lewis

Class of

Inducted

Clifton “Gator” Lewis grew up in Newark, Delaware where his brothers and cousins mentored him in football, basketball and baseball. Those lessons paid early dividends for Lewis at Howard High
School. He excelled in athletics, earning eight varsity letters in four sports. Lewis quarterbacked the Wildcats to an unbeaten football season in 1946. In 1947, Cliff’s senior year, Howard gridders
lost only two games by a total of four points while playing one of the toughest schedules among state schoolboy teams. Lewis finished fifth in the state football scoring standings that year and
served as captain. In baseball, Lewis was a pitcher and became the first African-American to play American Legion baseball in Delaware. Cliff attended Tennessee State University for one year before
transferring to Maryland Eastern Shore, where he quarterbacked the football team and played baseball. Lewis returned to Wilmington after earning his degree and served as an assistant and head
football coach at Howard High for 20 years. He also coached basketball and track at Bancroft Junior High School. In that position, Lewis developed many of Delaware’s outstanding track and field
performers of the 1950’s and 1960’s. After retiring from coaching, Lewis became a high school administrator. He is highly respected by athletes and students in Delaware and the region as a strong
advocate of discipline and sportsmanship. Wilmington City Council honored Lewis by naming a municipal park for him, and officially recognized his many contributions to athletics and education with a
proclamation in October, 2004.

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