Rattlers Lose an Icon

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Nov. 14) – Hansel E. “Tootie” Tookes, a longtime Florida A&M athletic administrator and educator, passed away Wednesday evening. He was 86.

Tookes, whose passion and enthusiasm for Florida A&M University, its’ Health and Physical Education department and the school’s storied athletic program, never waned in his later years following his retirement in the late 1980s, remained an active member of the FAMU Alumni Association, the Omega Phi Psi Fraternity, Inc., the FAMU National Varsity “F” Club and the FAMU Sports Hall of Fame Steering Committee.

Indicative of his continuing love for FAMU, Tookes and his wife, Lavada, began a scholarship endowment program for the Health, Physical Education and Recreation department in the late 1990s

A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Tookes served as Director of Athletics at FAMU, chaired the FAMU Health, Physical Education and Recreation Department and oversaw the FAMU Intramural Department during his career at the university.

From 1947 through the mid-1960s, Tookes served on the FAMU Football coaching staff, under Hall of Fame coach, A.S. “Jake” Gaither, mentoring the tackles and serving as the team’s advance scout of future opponents. He also served as the school’s golf coach,

He was appointed Athletics Director in 1975, upon the retirement of the legendary A.S. “Jake” Gaither, serving in that role until the fall of 1980.

Coach Tookes, as many knew him, founded the FAMU Sports Hall of Fame in 1976, an institution that has now honored over 200 former athletes, coaches, administrators and supporters.

Tookes also oversaw the FAMU athletic program’s transition to NCAA Division One in the late 1970s, helping transition the program from membership in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC) to affiliation with the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in 1980.

Undoubtedly, the move that he will be most remembered for during his reign as Athletics Director was his role in the creation of the Florida Classic football game between FAMU and Bethune-Cookman, which began a 27-year run in 1978 in Tampa.

Tookes, along with Bethune-Cookman athletic director Lloyd “Tank” Johnson, FAMU President Walter L. Smith and B-CC President Oswald P. Bronson hammered out the deal for the Classic, which has now grown to epic proportions, annually drawing 70,000 fans to the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.

Also known for his enthusiastic vocalizing of the fabled FAMU battle cry, “Hubba, Hubba,” at sports and alumni gatherings, Tookes began his long association with FAMU as a student-athlete on the Rattler Football team.

An All-Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tackle for the Rattlers from 1939 to 1942, Tookes helped FAMU to Black College National Championships in 1940 and 1942.

After graduating from Florida A&M, Tookes continued his athletic career in the United States Army, where he stood out at tackle for the Camp Lee team for three years.

He returned to FAMU in 1947, joining the Rattler athletic staff as an assistant football coach and golf coach, while also serving as associate professor in the Health and Physical Education Department.

His wife, Lavada, two sons, Hansel II and Darryl, and several grandchildren survive him.

For further information, visit: www.thefamurattlers.com


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