Reflections on Former NJD President Henry Talbert - Died January 12th
Henry Talbert passed away recently and left a huge void in the tennis world.
spent the past 16 years of his
life (until stepping down last April) as Executive Director of the USTA Southern California Section, he
helped to establish a tennis foundation here in New Jersey before moving back home to the west coast.
was president of the NJ District
(then called the New Jersey Tennis Association) from 1983-84 and from 1989-93 and worked with Princeton tennis pioneers Eve Kraft and John Conroy in local and national endeavors.
was a charming, humble, and articulate man who did much for tennis and who was respected and beloved.
passing, tennis leaders around the nation offered condolences and words of praise for his
leadership and contributions to the game.
held a bachelor's degree in Political Science and a Master's in Government from UCLA, where he
roomed with, and became friends with, Arthur Ashe.
He served in Vietnam, became the National Urban League's Director of Veterans Affairs, and began working for the USTA in 1974.
Last year, Henry
was the recipient of the Gussy Moran Humanitarian Award.
In 1995, he
received the Tennis Educational Merit Award from the International Tennis Hall of Fame
At that time, I had a chance to sit down with Henry
and interview him.
In reviewing his
USTA accomplishments at that point, he
noted that he
played a major role in developing and implementing the USTA's
Schools Program, Senior Tennis Program, and National Junior Tennis League
built the Tennis Teachers Conference into a major unifying and promotional force for the game.
created what became a nationwide camp scholarship and seed grant programs.
was particularly proud of his
role in developing camp scholarships and seed grants.
The scholarship program enabled kids, who would not have been able to go otherwise, to camp; and the seed program put the USTA
in contact with people who were doing interesting things.
A life-long tennis player, with a game developed on public park courts in California and continued on the courts in Mercer County, Talbert was the first African-American to be a USTA administrator on the national level, maintained contact with his friends here in NJ, and even came back to serve as MC for tennis events.
local tennis buddies still miss his
presence on the court.
Bob Howland worked with Henry
during his NJTA/NJD tenure and reports this: "My time with him at the NJTA
was a great people person and a terrific human being.
will be missed."
is grateful to have benefited from the guidance and leadership of Henry Talbert
and offers its sincere condolences to his wife Fran and sons Eli and Ethan.