Leroy ‘Buckwheat’ McNair has run his last race
By Shakey Daddy Monroe
Like the sun rising in the East and setting in the West, Leroy “Buck” McNair will always be remembered among friends.
McNair passed away on May 2, 2016. Services will be held Saturday at Williams Memorial.
McNair’s passing hit home for many long-time Fort Lauderdale residents, including myself. We’ve been friends for nearly 55 years. We attended elementary and junior high school together and grew up in the same part of town.
“It leaves an empty hole in your heart when you lose a friend like that,” said Wayne Miller, a long-time friend of McNair. “We’ve been friends for over 50 years.
“We’ve been through ups and downs together . . . a whole lot of trials and tribulations together. Buck was faithful to his friends. He’d give you the shirt off his back.
McNair will always be remembered for his athletic prowess. He was one of the greatest sprinters in the Broward County track and field history. He led Dillard High School to a runner-up state title in 1972 as a junior.
But it was not the times or individual titles that made McNair a standout on the track. He was competitive. McNair never ran a race with the intentions of setting records. He simply ran to win. He was determined not to get beat, whether it was the 100, 200 or 400.
“I remember during a district track meet when (Alfred) McCullough had a 110-yard lead on him and Buck ran him down at the 330 mark,” Miller said. “And McCullough pushed him off the track.
“That was the greatest track race I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Miller was referring to Alfred McCullough of Miami Jackson High School, one of the greatest sprinters in Miami-Dade County history. The race was in the mile relay during McNair’s junior season. It was the first and only time that McCullough has ever been run down. He and McNair were strong rivals. After that race, the Miami Jack-son track coach refused to match McCullough against McNair again.
Nevertheless, McNair was not just limited to track and field. He played football for Dillard and semi-pro with the Fort Lauderdale Rattlers. He was a standout running back and also played linebacker. He and Miller were teammates with the Rattlers.
McNair also loved cars and fixing them up. He went through cars like a dog goes through fleas. That was always the joke about McNair among neighborhood friends.
Anyone who knew McNair knew that he’d never keep a vehicle over six months when he was growing up.
There were so many memorable experiences with McNair. But I do have a favorite. It dates back to Sunrise Junior High School.
We were in the same physical education (P.E.) class at Sunrise in eighth grade.
McNair got into a swimming contest and didn’t know how to swim.
Fortunately for McNair, the swimming contest started at the shallow end of the pool. He dived into the water feet first and started walking while he was splashing water with his arms.
Of course, Buck didn’t get too far before the coach order him out of the water . . . after the coach stopped laughing.
“When I first came to town back in 1966, I was the last one on the block,” Miller said. He (McNair) would hold you down in the middle of Ninth Avenue and wait till the cars get close, then he’d jump up and run. He was definitely a character.
“If you didn’t want something to be known . . . don’t let him know about it. He was going to tell it.”