Honors proposed for billiards legend Lassiter
By Jon Hawley
Monday, February 18, 2019
Downtown Elizabeth City may soon show some love for billiards legend Luther “Wimpy” Lassiter, thanks to the Elizabeth City Historic Neighborhood Association.
ECHNA is proposing to create “Wimpy Lassiter Way” along Colonial Avenue from Water Street to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Honorary street signs would be placed below the streets' official names.
ECHNA is also proposing to erect a plaque honoring Lassiter at 504 E. Colonial Avenue, where Lassiter started his career, according to its application.
The city's Historic Preservation Commission approved both proposals in a meeting last week, though the street signs also require City Council's approval, according to city staff.
ECHNA President Vidal Falcon said the association has talked about honoring Lassiter for years, given he was a native son of Elizabeth City, six-time World Billiards Champion, and has often been featured in ECHNA's annual Ghost Walk.
Falcon also said ECHNA had proposed a cast aluminum plaque be placed at 504 E. Colonial Avenue, but the city has asked it consider a plaque similar to other historic plaques downtown, such as for the Wright brothers.
According to the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ online biography of Lassiter, he was born in 1918 and took to playing pool at a young age, even dropping out of school to pursue the game.
He would go on to become a renowned “hustler” who made money off the game. Lassiter won more than 20 major billiards titles over his career, and is the only person to be inducted into the N.C. Sports Hall of Fame for billiards. He died in 1988.
Lassiter got his nickname, “Wimpy,” according to the DNCR biography, “thanks to his insatiable appetite for hot dogs and soda, much like the Popeye character who ate hamburgers.”
Asked if ECHNA was considering similar honorary signs for other historic figures, Falcon said no. Other prominent figures featured in the Ghost Walk are already fairly well recognized in other ways, he said.