Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — When Richard "Pete" Taylor made his way to the microphone inside the Lewiston-Porter High School auditorium Thursday, there was applause. As he spoke, there was silence, waiting to hear what the first of four Distinguished Alumni would pass on to the gathered crowd of students, fellow alumni and guests.
The member of Lewiston-Porter's class of 1959 explained his life growing up in Youngstown, how his baseball team as a youth pushed itself to defeat neighboring Lewiston each year. Then, when he was entering seventh grade, the world changed and suddenly he was in class sitting next to some of those bitter rivals after spending the summer hating them.
Those years in Lewiston-Porter helped develop in him a love and respect for education in general, something he spent a lifetime cultivating as he both pursued his own and provided youth with theirs.
"They developed in me a true value for eduction," said Taylor, a retired physical education teacher and former National Basketball Association assistant coach. "Lewiston-Porter meant a great deal to me. I think about it every time I think about my training, think about my family."
His message was echoed by each of the four honorees, including Youngstown historian and author Suzanne Simon Dietz, Sgt. Major Micheal Barrett and Daryl Johnston.
Taylor, who holds a doctorate from Springfield College in Massachusetts, has spent a lot of his adult life moving around from job to job as he ascended the ranks of high school, college and professional coaching and educating. He spent considerable time coaching for the New York Knicks, which he said was one accomplishment he is proud of.
He also served as an assistant coach under Bob Knight at West Point Military Academy, where he helped mold a young Mike Krzyzewski into what would become the winningest college basketball coach in history and the head coach of the country's national team since 2006, a tenure including two Olympic gold medals.