Red Wade was a big man in Pratt, in physical stature and by his influence on the young men he taught. On Saturday, the late teacher and coach will be honored with the naming of the Red Wade Court at Blythe Family Fitness. The dedication will take place at 11 a.m. Oct. 6 at 219 West Fifth.
Edward William Wade taught health and physical education and coached at Liberty Middle School from 1947 to 1976 and coached at Pratt Community College.
"He was so instrumental in the lives of a lot of young men," said Rick Abrams, who spearheaded an Honor Red Wade campaign that began in 2011. "He taught leadership, self-confidence and understanding limitations. He used the arena of sports to teach us about things we needed to be better people; things like personal responsibility, fair play and compassion."
The naming of the Red Wade Court will allow us to "give something back to a man who gave so much to the community," Abams continued.
As the Blythe Fitness Center, a project of the Roy and Elsie Blythe Foundation, was being completed, directors recognized the need for additional funds. Donors who made contributions of $250,000 were given the opportunity to name a court. The Honor Red Wade group began the campaign with a promise from a donor to match contributions dollar for dollar, up to $125,000, for each of two available basketball courts. They didn't reach the goal for two courts, Abrams said, but he is pleased with the response and the chance to recognize a man who does not have another memorial place in Pratt.
Wade's methods of getting a student's attention were not always conventional; you might find a big shoe or a volleyball flying over your head, Abrams said, but you usually only needed that kind of prompting once. And while Abrams acknowledged that most of Wade's influence was on the boys in his health and phys. ed. classes, a woman commented to him that Wade was the best home room teacher she ever had.
Wade grew up in Utah and attended Utah State University, where he received conference and national honors in basketball and football. He played semi-professional basketball for two years and was drafted by the Chicago Bears football team, but an injury ended his career.
During World War II, he served in the Army Air Corps at Smoky Hill Air Base in Salina.
Wade and wife Georgene had three children, including Gregg, who lives in Pratt. He died in December 2002.