Official Obituary of

Walter Ivory Wesley Sr.

January 25, 1945 ~ March 28, 2024 (age 79) 79 Years Old

Walter Wesley Sr. Obituary


Walter Ivory Wesley, Sr. (Walt) was born on January 25, 1945 to the late Leroy R. and Josie Wesley, and was raised between Immokalee and Fort Myers, Florida as both of his parents were educators.

Walt attended Dunbar High School, graduating in 1962 and excelled in several sports to include baseball, basketball, and football. Under the tutelage and training of Coach James Stephens, his high school basketball coach, Walt became a quality basketball player and was recruited by several top schools to include Bradley and UCLA.

In 1962, Coach Ted Owens recruited and was responsible for Walt committing to the University of Kansas (KU). Walt often stated that Coach Owens changed the “trajectory” of his life by providing him with the opportunity to experience life out of the segregated south and play at a university that was a powerhouse, where the game of basketball was invented.

While at the University of Kansas, Walt was selected a two-time Consensus All-American in 1965 and 1966, a two-time All-Big Eight selection following his junior and senior seasons. Kansas won the Big Eight Holiday Tournament in 1964 and 1965 and was the Big Eight regular-season champion in 1966, advancing to the NCAA Tournament with a 23-4 record.

Walt’s career average of 19.3 points per game ranks in the top 10 on the KU all-time scoring average list and his 1,315 career points are 33rd and he averaged over 20 points in his junior and senior seasons. Walt often spoke fondly of his teammates whom he referred to as his brothers, (Riney Lochmann, Al Lopes, Ron Lang, Delvey Lewis, Ron Franz, Jo-Jo White, Fred Chana, Pat Davis, Roger Bohnenstiehl, Bo Harris, and Bob Wilson).

During his senior year in college, Walt was a First Round draft choice (6th pick) in 1966 for the National Basketball Association (NBA) Cincinnati Royals, and the first selection for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1971 NBA expansion draft. He had a successful 10-year career in the NBA and in addition to playing with the Cincinnati Royals and Cleveland Cavaliers, Walt played for the Chicago Bulls. Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns and LA Lakers.

Walt held the record for the most points (50) scored in a single half of a game, for the Cleveland Cavaliers for over 30 years until it was broken by LeBron James in 2008 who utilized the three point baskets as a part of the combined total, which was not a part of the game when the record was established by Walt.

After playing professional basketball, Walt served as a Division l basketball coach for over 25 years between the University of Kansas, Western Michigan University, and the United States Military Academy at West Point.

After coaching, Walt served as the Director of the Success Through Academic and Recreational Support (S.T.A.R.S.) Complex and the Executive Director for the Police Athletic League (PAL) in Fort Myers, Florida.

Wesley’s Kansas Jersey, No. 13 was officially retired on December 18, 2004 and the Dunbar High School Jersey No. 31 was retired in January 2008.

He was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Ohio Sports Hall of Fame in 2018. Additionally, he was inducted into the inaugural Lee County Athletic Conference Hall of Fame, the National Negro High School Basketball Hall of Fame in September 2007, the National High School Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Court of Legends by the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches.

In October 2018, Walt was honored by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis in the World Premiere of the “Rock Chalk Suite” by having a jazz score commissioned for him as one of fifteen basketball luminaries, entitled “Walt’s Waltz.”

The City of Fort Myers through proclamation established April 5, 2021, as Walter Ivory “Walt” Wesley Day.

Walt often stated, one of the greatest highlights of his life was to attend KU’s 125-Year celebration in January 2023 as many of his fellow teammates were in attendance. Also in 2023, Walt was honored as the men’s basketball recipient in the Marian E. Washington Trailblazer Series that was created in February 2020 to highlight influential African-American Jayhawks in multiple sports throughout each Black History Month. The Basketball team wore “custom- designed jerseys” with his Number 13, in his honor at the sell-out home game.

Walt was an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Xi Omicron Lambda Chapter. He pledged as an undergraduate in 1965 at the University of Kansas (Upsilon Chapter) and was in constant contact with his beloved fraternity brothers from that chapter. He also had the distinct honor of receiving the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity “Jessie Owens Award of Excellence” for athletic and philanthropic accomplishments, awarded at the 104th Anniversary Convention of Alpha Phi Alpha, in Las Vegas, Nevada in July 2010.

He was active with numerous charitable events, civic and professional organizations to include a “Lifetime Member” of the NBA Legends Retired Players Association.

He leaves to cherish and remember his life, his loving and devoted wife Denise; children (Janée, Walter Jr., and Clinton); grandchildren (Phoenix, Samani, and Christian); his only sister, Joan Lee Estelle Wesley Battles (Willie) and a host of family to include his daughters-in-law (Cindy and Stephanie), his favorite cousins Alfred Wesley and Alvin Timmons, his special God-Sister, Greta Stebbins Campbell, sisters and brothers in-law, nephews, nieces, cousins, special friends, his Mt. Olive AME Church family where he served as a Trustee, his Basketball family to include his former KU teammates and coaches, and his beloved Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Brothers.

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April 4, 2024

6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church
2160 Veronica S. Shoemaker Blvd.
Fort Myers, FL 33916

Memorial Service
April 5, 2024

1:00 PM
Mt. Olive A.M.E. Church
2160 Veronica S. Shoemaker Blvd.
Fort Myers, FL 33916


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