Walter Ledet, a legendary figure in the Louisiana sports world, became the 600th initiate of the Beta Omicron Chapter of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity on September 21, 2016, the 60th anniversary of the chapter’s chartering at Northwestern State University.
This posthumous honor comes nearly 4 years after his passing, fulfilling a desire expressed prior to his death in 2012. A graduate of NSU, Ledet was a former president of Phi Kappa Nu, the local fraternity that eventually became the Beta Omicron Chapter in 1956.
“It’s a tremendous honor for our chapter that Walter’s wish became reality with the approval and support of both the Ledet Family and the National Council of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity,” said Alumni Chapter President Lane Luckie. “While we consider members of our predecessor, Phi Kappa Nu, to be included in our brotherhood, we began discussing the idea of making it official several years ago. Phi Kappa Nu and Pi Kappa Phi had become a regular topic of conversation among Walter and our alumni who attended NSU Football games with him or met for his ‘Coffee Club’ at Merci Beaucoup restaurant.”
Ledet’s life was filled with numerous examples of dedicated service to his community and his alma mater. “I believe Walter’s life is a clear example of the type of leadership to which we should aspire,” Luckie said.
Ledet was NSU’s first All-America football player and became a legendary coaching figure and a high-ranking university administrator along with being an influential leader in the Natchitoches community.
An Abbeville native, he was a 1938 Little All-America guard who spurned a contract offer from the NFL’s 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 not long before his death.
A veteran of World War II, he played football at bases around the world during his service in the U.S. Air Force.
Ledet was a 1996 inductee in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. From 1952-64, while also serving as assistant football coach, he was a highly successful head track and field coach at Northwestern State, 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.
In 1966, Ledet became the university’s registrar 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 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.
Ledet was named to 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.
A member of Holy Cross Catholic Church, Ledet was also a founding member of the Kiwanis Club of Natchitoches. The university’s Catholic Student Organization recognized him in 2003 for his contributions to the university and its Catholic students.
The Ledets have four children, 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
A membership certificate bearing Ledet’s name was presented to representatives of his family at the chapter’s 60th anniversary Diamond Jubilee Luncheon in the NSU Student Union Ballroom on October 22. A collage of photos documenting Ledet’s life and career will go on display in the Beta Omicron Chapter House.