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Home > University News

Dr. William M. Spann '56 Remembered

November 6, 2013 – Dr. William M. Spann, an alumnus, former University Administrator and Athletic Director, passed away on November 3rd at the age of 86. He served the University for 38 years in a variety of positions.

Dr. Spann was born on July 21, 1927 to the late Isaac Spann and Susie Pinkney-Mack. A native of Charleston, S.C., he graduated from Burke High School in 1946. He then went on to attend Shaw University from 1946-1948. In 1947, Dr. Spann was a member of Shaw University's national championship football team, which he was later inducted to the Shaw University's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1987. From 1949 – 1953, his education was interrupted by a stint in the military. He returned to Shaw University in 1954 and graduated in 1956 with a B.S. degree in Physical Education. He continued educational pursuits at Michigan State University, Xavier University, University of Alaska and Coppin State College. Dr. Spann received his M.A. degree in Physical Education and Recreation from Columbia University and ultimately received his professional degree in Physical Education at Indiana State University. His deep and abiding faith in the mission of Shaw University led him to become a faculty member in 1957.

At Shaw University he served as head coach in a variety of intercollegiate sports. He was named CIAA Basketball Coach of the Year for an exceptional 1963-1964 season. In 1976 he coached Shaw's women basketball team to the NCAA Division III championships and was named CIAA Basketball Coach of the Year in the women's division. During his tenure at Shaw University he served as Athletic Director, founder of the Kinesiotherapy Clinical Program and Chairperson of the Department of Allied Health. Dr. Spann rose through the academic ranks from instructor to associate professor to the time of his first retirement in 1998. He was then called back by the administration as a full professor to head the Department of Allied Health, Audiology, and Speech Pathology where he retired again in 2003. Affectionately called Uncle Willie, Dr. Spann loved his family and friends.

In addition, he dedicated his life to Shaw University and the brothers of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated. In 2005, Dr. Spann and other interested alumni and friends spearheaded the development of the Shaw farmhouse. He revitalized the farmhouse from a run-down and dilapidated facility to a respectful attractive venue to serve the University and the community. A member of St. Paul AME Church in Raleigh, NC, Dr. Spann was a God-fearing man who had stern convictions about life. Once called a "man of all seasons," he was an avid Sunday school attendee and supporter. In addition, he was once superintendent of Shaw University's Sunday school.

He was preceded in death by his devoted wife, Lillian Fladger Spann and survived by his two daughters, Cynthia and Wilma; five grandchildren Yero, Mario, Channte', Cyndria, and Quinton; four great-grand Acacia, Jalen, Paige and Akir; one sister Louise; one brother George; a loyal first cousin Mariah (Lloyd); and a host of nieces, nephews, family and friends.