Northwestern State great Walter Ledet dies

NATCHITOCHES — Walter Ledet, Northwestern State’s first All-America football player who became a legendary coaching figure and a high-ranking university administrator, along with an influential leader in the Natchitoches community, died Friday at the age of 93.

Ledet, an Abbeville native, was a 1938 Little All-America guard who spurned a contract offer from the Philadelphia Eagles to remain in Natchitoches and at Northwestern as an assistant coach to Harry Turpin. He married his college sweetheart, Betty Willis of Natchitoches. They celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary July 24 and was nearing what would have been his 94th birthday on Jan. 4.

Ledet was a 1996 inductee in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and was the Hall’s oldest member at the time of his passing Friday morning. From 1952-64, while also serving as assistant football coach, he was a successful head track and field coach at Northwestern who won five straight Gulf States Conference Championships from 1953-57 and missed a sixth in a row by half a point.

He helped shape the careers of three other Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame competitors, Charlie Tolar, Charlie Hennigan and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Jackie Smith, who came to Northwestern on a track scholarship.

He was in Northwestern’s Long Purple Line Alumni Hall of Distinction and the Graduate N Club Hall of Fame for his athletic exploits. The track and field facility at NSU was named in his honor, the Walter P. Ledet Track Complex, in 1996.

Ledet became the university’s registrar in 1966 and officially retired in 1980. He was a constant figure at university events and athletic competitions both at home and on the road. He was recently honorary referee of the 2011 Southland Conference Outdoor Track and Field Championships hosted at the Ledet Complex, which is also the site of the annual Louisiana High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships.

The Ledets have four children, Dr. Walter Ledet Jr., a surgeon in Sulphur; Elizabeth Kurz, of Shreveport; Camille Bollinger of Nacogoches, Texas, and Dr. Ted Ledet, an internist of Nacogdoches. There are 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Family members said a memorial service in Natchitoches will be held later. Ledet donated his body to medical science.

Broadcaster Fletcher dies

NATCHITOCHES — Norm Fletcher, a Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame member for his broadcasting career who also was elected three times as Natchitoches Parish sheriff, died at the age of 82 Friday afternoon in the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center.

Fletcher, a Natchitoches native, was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2010 as he received the Distinguished Service Award in Sports Journalism from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

He was elected as sheriff for the first time in 1979, and for several years spoke at the FBI Academy in Washington, D.C. on topics including efficiency and effectiveness of law enforcement operations.