Former president of Atlanta Urban League Lyndon Wade dies at 82

Lyndon A. Wade, a community leader and former president of the Atlanta Urban League, died Saturday at his home.

The Atlanta native considered the Atlanta Urban League a force for good when he joined in 1968 and stayed on as president more than 32 years.

His wife, Shirley, and he celebrated 51 years of marriage in 2016. They raised four children together and have two granddaughters.

“To me, he was not only a father and a grandfather, but a light of inspiration,” daughter Jennifer Wade-Berg said.

All four adult children say they still called their dad multiple times per week for advice.

“It’s not a once a week thing,” said Lisa Wade, Lyndon’s eldest daughter. “I saw my dad multiple times every week and talked to him almost every day.”

Through their discussions, Lyndon Wade’s children would figure out what they needed to do without his having to tell them.

With the exception of Nora Wade, who lives in Los Angeles, the siblings live within 10 minutes of each other and visit often.

“I was on the first plane back,” Nora said.

The 82-year-old had been battling a form of lymphoma cancer and died of a related complication.

The youngest of nine children, Lyndon grew up during tense times in southwest Atlanta and made his education a priority.

“He did grow up in the poor area of Vine City, but they didn’t know they were poor,” Lisa Wade said.

His son and youngest child, Stuart Wade, said his father faced segregation and worked his way through school, but continued to sacrifice so that his children wouldn’t have to work as hard when they earned their educations.

“The sacrifices he made, made us as strong as we are today,” daughter Nora Wade said.

Stuart said his father wanted them to have experiences that would shape their world.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in social work from Morehouse College, Lyndon Wade earned a master’s degree at what is now Clark Atlanta University.

He was drafted into military service, where he earned a commission and was assigned to a hospital at Fort Bragg in North Carolina.

He spent much of his time at Madigan Army Medical Center, a teaching hospital in Washington, as a clinical social worker.

After nearly four years, Lyndon Wade thought about staying in the Army, but decided to try something else when he learned he would be sent to Korea.

He returned to Atlanta in 1963 and took an assistant teaching position at Emory University’s Department of Psychiatry and used his influence to help open a mental health floor at Grady Memorial Hospital.

Lyndon Wade recorded an interview last June for a Voices Across the Color Line Oral History project at the Atlanta History Center.

Though he missed the March on Washington in 1963, he continued to be active in the Atlanta community and fought what he called a war on poverty.

Promoting education and helping others better themselves continued to be main themes in Lyndon Wade’s life.

Through the league, he helped develop programs to provide social services, training and help finding jobs, housing and education.

The Georgia Senate recognized his work with a resolution passed in 2000 and the Atlanta Urban League honored him with its Legacy Award in 2010.

Janita Poe, a 53-year-old Ph.D candidate at Georgia State University who recently moved back home, said her family lived across the street from Lyndon Wade for nearly five decades.

“Over here we say, ‘They just don’t make that model anymore,’” Poe said.

Her neighbor was a longtime source of inspiration and encouragement.

He lived conservatively, below his means, Poe said, and was all about doing the best for his children, who were among the first wave of blacks to integrate The Lovett School.

Poe said men like him weren’t just role models, they were heroes.

“In these days and times of uncertainty, a generation needs to learn from his lessons and continue his work toward achieving a community that prides itself on equity and inclusion,” Wade-Berg said.