Brother Donald Van Blake - A Living Legend
Story by Omicron Chi Chapter
Donald Van Blake was born August 9, 1921, in Plainfield, NJ at Muhlenberg Hospital to Henry and Harriet Ellen Van Blake. Bro. Van Blake, a Buffalo Soldier, originally was a member of the U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed on September 21, 1866 at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The "Negro Cavalry" nickname was given by the Native American tribes they fought; the term eventually became synonymous with all of the African-American regiments formed in 1866.
Bro. Donald Van Blake is one of the last remaining Buffalo Soldiers. Upon discharge in 1945, Bro. Van Blake attended Hampton Institute -- now Hampton University -- on the G.I. Bill. While at Hampton he was initiated into Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated, Gamma Epsilon Chapter. On April 7, 1955, Bro. Van Blake, along with eleven other men, chartered Omicron Chi Chapter in Plainfield, NJ. Bro Van Blake is the last living charter member.
Brother Van Blake is one of the most decorated tennis coaches ever, yet he didn't start playing until he was 55. This ambassador of tennis in Plainfield, NJ, is known for the slogan "Tennis, Tennis, Tennis everyone" which is inscribed on the monument in front of the Donald Van Blake Tennis Courts. His big projects have always been in the schools, including gym classes and after school programs, and on playgrounds and in parks. The whole focus has been to get kids off the streets and onto the courts. He wasn't looking for champions, just more kids to get into the game. He loved it when kids came through the program and made the varsity squads but he never wanted to lose track of those who didn't make it. He wanted every kid to be able to play it for recreation now and in later years.
In 2008, Brother Van Blake was inducted into the Junior Tennis Foundation's Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame for his contributions to the tennis community. Bro Van Blake is a very active and vocal member of Omicron Chi Chapter. He is a true american hero...a true living legend!