Percy Zachary, a Minnesota first


Percy Zachary
Date: 
Mon, 1927-03-07

*Percy Zachary was born on this date in 1927. He was an African American administrator, businessman and college athlete.

From Sioux City, Iowa, he was the son of Jay Percy and Elizabeth Zachary. The elder Zachary never drove a car, walking everywhere he went. He and his wife filled the home with books and instilled education and black heritage as cornerstones for their children. At age four his family moved to St. Paul, Minnesota. They had nine children-five girls, Hazel, Esther, Naomi, Betty and Jeanette and four boys, Cleo Louis, Percy and Ben. Percy attended Maxfield Elementary School and was a two-time All-City selection as a fullback and end at John Marshall High School.

In 1948, after the Army, Zachary attended and played football at Louisville Municipal College (an accredited but segregated undergraduate branch of the University of Louisville). There he kicked 35 extra points and was a standout flanker. Following the 1949 season, Zachary returned to the Twin Cities and enrolled at the University of Minnesota.

After sitting out the 1950 and 1951 season with an injury, Zachary started at tackle and middle guard on the Gophers’ defensive line and was one of the Big Ten’s best players. Zachary lettered just one season and made a huge impact for the Golden Gophers in 1952. Following the season, he was one of three players to earn first team All-Big Ten awards. He was the first African-American to earn All-Big Ten honors in football at the University of Minnesota, a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and graduated with his Bachelors Degree.

In 1953, Zachary married his wife Martha Scales. The couple had five children; Thomas, Mitchell, Sharon, Dennis and Steven. They also have nineteen grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He worked at Fairview Foods, 3M, the County Employment Training Act and the Ramsey Action Program as a supervisor of Vista Volunteers. Zachary also was a real estate agent and the director of Social Services Programs for Dakota County.

He was an active member of the Northwest Umpires Association, the Wheel’s Club Inc. and the American Legion. An avid gardener, he was also a member of St. Peter Claver Catholic Church of St. Paul. Percy J. Zachary died at his home on Dec. 23, 2007.

Reference:
Kwame McDonald, Mpls. Spokesman Recorder

Person / name: 

Zachary, Percy J.