It is not often that one has an opportunity to learn from someone who was a part of history. The return of Ed Pendleton to Brookfield is indeed one of these chances. Pendleton will be the featured speaker at the First Annual Brookfield Quarterback Club Banquet on March 23 at 6:30 p.m. in the BHS gym.
Pendleton was a BHS graduate in 1957, and went on to become a prominent attorney and judge in the Kansas City area. But what history did Mr. Pendleton live through? Ed Pendleton was one of the first African-American athletes to integrate at Brookfield High School. This was done years before integration was mandated by the federal government.
“Brookfield and Ed Pendleton are together,” said Pendleton. “The things I learned in Brookfield have led me through my life. The affection people had for me in Brookfield, and the affection I have for them, it affected me in a good way.”
Pendelton noted, though, that his upbringing in Brookfield was not the only influence on the man he became. “The only person who had more of an influence on me was my mother,” said Pendleton. “She had a Master’s Degree in Education. She was probably one of the most educated people in Brookfield.”
Pendleton was born in Brookfield on March 22, 1939 at 303 West Clayton St. His father was Edgar Maurice Pendleton and his biological mother was LouEthel Hill. His parents divorced, and his father married Laverine Dorinda Fosatina, the woman he calls his mother. Pendleton has two sisters: Saundra Jean and Martina.
The story of his integration into the public school at BHS was one that Pendleton recalled fondly. “I was recruited one Saturday while playing below Canal Street,” said Pendleton. “My cousin Paul Phoenix and I were running around. A guy drove up, got out of the car, and asked us if we wanted to play football. My cousin and I came out for the team. I had never played football before.”
But it was not all gridiron glory for Pendleton, as he had to give up a favorite activity to come to BHS. “I wanted to ride the bus 42 miles to Dalton at 4:45 a.m.,” said Pendleton. “All of the pretty girls were on the bus. I actually cried when my mother told me. It was my selfish way, I loved riding to basketball games in the back of the bus.”
Dalton High School was the segregated school where Pendleton attended classes prior to coming to Brookfield High School.
“Gerald Mitchell was a year ahead of me,” noted Pendleton. “But Paul and I made the football team. Paul has since passed away, but we ran track, played football, and I played on every summer baseball league around and some church softball. It was all integrated, I never had a problem with it.”
Page 2 of 2 - His baseball prowess earned him a shot at major league baseball. “I was recruited by the Kansas City Athletics at 16 years old,” said Pendleton. “Larry Admire and I were invited to Kansas City to try out. There wasn’t a lot of money, so I didn’t go. When I went into the Air Force, Larry joined the Baltimore Orioles.”
Pendelton had a lot of success with the Bulldogs football team: “We only lost one football game to Kirksville when I was playing football at BHS. Paul could outrun me in the 100 yard dash, but no one else did. Kirksville recruited me for a track scholarship as well.”
Track was another sport that Pendleton competed in and enjoyed at BHS. “Our track team set many records in my time at Brookfield,” said Pendleton. “Paul [Phoenix] ran a 9.9 second 100-yard dash; I ran it in 10 seconds flat. We won several state championships. Chillicothe was our rival. My son Maurice was the State Heavyweight wrestling champion as a junior in the nineties. He took third place his senior year and was beaten by a guy from Brookfield.”
But one race he lost stuck out in Pendleton’s mind. “My mother was the only one who could outrun me,” admitted Pendleton. “I cussed my sister one day, and she got after me. I took off running and tried to hit the street before she did. I didn’t think anyone could catch me. She caught me at the flower bed and flipped me over. I asked her how she caught me, and she just said, ‘I’m your mother.’”
Growing up in Brookfield, Pendleton was a member of only 57 African-American families in town. “I didn’t know what color I was until I left Brookfield and joined the Air Force,” said Pendleton. “I never even heard a racial slur until I left home. I was once not served in a restaurant. My father always told me not to get mad, but get even. Years later I bought that building.”
Pendelton continued: “We had only 57 black families in Brookfield when I was growing up. We didn’t have a lot of black families, and there are less now. Phil Bruska was my coach; Don Allen coached baseball in Chillicothe. I saw my first American car after I came back from the service.”