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WSU Cougar legend Duke Washington passes away

Washington is perhaps best known as the first black man to play at Texas' Memorial Stadium.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Former Washington State Cougar running back legend Duke Washington passed away Thursday night following a three week bout with pneumonia. He was 83 years old.

Washington came to Pullman in 1952 after an outstanding career at Pasco High School where many consider him to be the greatest running back to ever play for the Bulldogs. He played three seasons of football at Washington State earning All-Coast honors his senior year and spent one season playing professional football for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1955.

But Washington is remembered for breaking down race barriers in college football as he was the first black man to play in Texas' Memorial Stadium in 1954 when the Cougars traveled to Austin to play the Longhorns. In fact, Washington had to stay at the home of a black family while the rest of his teammates stayed in a hotel, as a precaution for his safety. The Cougars fell to Texas, but Washington scored a 73-yard touchdown and was given a standing ovation by many in the Longhorn student section.

After his lone season with the Eagles, Washington became an art-teacher based in Seattle, with stops as Vice Principal at Franklin High School and as the Assistant Dean of Students at the University of Washington. He was inducted into the WSU Hall of Fame in 2009.


A legend passes away: Duke Washington, a race pioneer and hall of fame athlete, called WSU 'my true north' - Washington State - Scout
DUKE WASHINGTON, a race pioneer in two states and Hall of Fame running back at Washington State, passed away Thursday in Seattle following a three-week-long battle with pneumonia. The retired high school art teacher was the first person in his family to attend college and often referred to WSU as "my true North."

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