Black History Profiles

William Lavon Price

William Lavon Price Was a Community Activist and Legendary Champion for Youth

William Lavon Price was small in stature, but larger than life… and he accomplished a lot more than what is listed. This just gives you a vision of how great of a man Willie was. He believed that to achieve success you must live good, laugh often, and love much and the way to gain respect of all people is by the work you do in your community.

Life:Born on January 27, 1929 in Helper City, Carbon County, Utah. Moved to Salt Lake City in 1937. Called home on November 15th, 2017.
Education:West High School, Utah State, Weber State, Dayton Ohio, Bachelor’s in Management
Jobs:15 – 18 Union Pacific at age, Hotel Newhouse, Lagoon, Contract to haul lead dust for the Tooele Smelter.
Boxing Career:Willie (Wee Willie or Blinky) Price. Over 120 fights both Amateur & Professional. State Championship Golden Gloves and Professional record 19-7-1. Willie started boxing in the 1940s as was a member of the Rotary Boys Club at the age of 10. They put on shows for the USO (United Service Organization). Willie fought in New York, Idaho, California, Colorado, Washington state, and Washington D. C., as an amateur boxer and professional boxer. He boxed for 22 years, 10 years as a professional.
CareerAfter retiring from boxing, Willie started working at Hill Airforce Base and was the supervisor for race relations training at Hill Air Force Base for seven years and later retired from the Bureau of Land Management as an equal opportunity officer. After retirement, he became involved in boxing as the registration chairman for all amateur boxers, referees, doctors, and judges for the state of Utah.
Community & Activist WorkStarted the Catholic Youth Organization (PARA) 1950 serving as the Parish Athletic Recreation Association (PARA) League commissioner for more than 40 years. PARA has at least 2,000 kids playing basketball, softball, volleyball, and running track. President of the Northwest Neighborhood Council and started a basketball league 1967, Organized the N.W. Block Fair 1967, Community Action Program 1970, Organized the Central City Bike ride for Kids 1971, Lead the movement for more direct bus routes to poverty-stricken neighborhoods 1971, Organized the Central City Fund Raiser to save the center 1971, Run for Shoes, Organizer of the Police Activities League Track Meet 1975, The Willie Price Armature Invitational 2003, Run for Shoes a track meet to raise funds to buy 1,000 pair of shoes for youth in need 2008.
AwardsState Championship Golden Gloves, NAACP award for Civil & Human Rights, National Conference of Christians and Jews Man of the Year Award presented by Governor Calvin L. Rampton (first African-American to receive) now named Humanitarian Award by the Inclusion Center for Community and Justice, Champion of Youth, Governor’s Citation, and Silver Bowl of Caring Award.
OrganizationsRotary Boys Club, Knights of Columbus, and Elks Beehive Lodge.

A Story from His Family

The Utah Theatre had a balcony and that is where the blacks had to sit. One day my grandfather and several of his friends (around 21) set fire to the theatre. Well they didn’t really set fire to it, they all lit up a cigarette at the same time sitting in the balcony and it looked like the theatre was on fire. Someone told them that there was an ordinance against anyone being in the balcony unless chaperoned. He told them how to break it and that was to set fire to the place. The fire department was called in because of the smoke and found out that kids were in the balcony unchaperoned, this made them enforce the ordinance. This helped change the way Utah theatres treated blacks and shutting down all the balconies. This was in the early 50’s. He felt that since he paid the same amount as everyone else, he should be able to sit in any vacant seat.