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Choice Broke Down racial walls during his career in basketball

Wally Choice, Local civil rights icon and former college & professional basketball player, passes away at 85

Photo . by Diane Lilli, 2009
In this photo, Wally Choice is the second person on from on the right. This photo was taken in 2009, as Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo Jr. (third from left) shared plans for Glen Field Park.
Diane Lilli

Montclairians and many others are mourning the death of Wallace “Wally” Choice Jr. Choice was a a college and professional basketball player who helped change the way the game treated minorities, as he crossed racial lines to play successfully. He died on Sunday, at the age of 85.

Choice played for both the Harlem Globetrotters as well as the Eastern Professional League.

Wally Choice came back to Montclair to spend his life, and not only had local businesses, a still successful community organization “Montclair Grass Roots” but also a close knit family and community who loved him. One of his crowning achievements is the Wally Choice Community Center in Glenfield Park, a bustling hub in Montclair.

His son Wally Choice Jr. reports Choice passed away at Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center after a short illness.

Wally Choice’s wake is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Martin’s Funeral Home, 48 Elm St., with the funeral at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Paul Baptist Church, 119 Elm St.

The funeral procession will pass by the Wally Community Center on the way to Rosedale Cemetery.

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. was sadden by the. Death of Wally Choice’s.

"Wally Choice was an icon and legend. Under his leadership for half a century, Montclair Grass Roots provided productive activities for residents of all ages, helped stabilize Montclair's Fourth Ward and was a unifying force throughout the township and Essex County,” said DiVincenzo. “Glenfield Park was like a second home for Wally, and he volunteered countless hours and was an invaluable partner with the County to enhance the park's beauty and rebuild its recreation facilities. Our hearts and prayers go out to his wife and the Choice family."


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