By Clyde Hughes | AC JosepH Media
BRIDGETON – The Bridgeton Area Brothers United in conjunction with Bridgeton Public Schools on Saturday (Aug. 21) formally renamed the Bridgeton High School gymnasium after retired longtime coach and youth supporter Felton Lingo Sr.
Lingo was a fixture at Bridgeton High School during his roughly four decades of coaching there, said Charlie Kates, one of Lingo’s former student-athletes and now president of the Bridgeton Area Brothers United.
Bridgeton Superintendent Keith Miles said the BABU were joined in the celebration by Bridgeton High School Athletic Director Cynthia Wilks and school board President Mary Peterson during the organization’s Community Day at Cherry Street School.
Lingo, who now lives in Virginia with family members, received the honor because of his dedicated services to the youth in Bridgeton, whether it was at the school or in the greater community, Kates said.
“During the summertime, he would work for different organizations to make sure the kids had jobs,” Kates told Front Runner New Jersey on Sunday. “Just his service alone to the community and through the athletic programs at Bridgeton, we felt that was the least we could ask.”
Kates said Lingo was an influential and consistent mainstay in the lives of youth he came in contact with during his generation of work in the Bridgeton community.
“He coached cross country, football and girls and boys basketball,” Kates said. “He’s been instrumental in a lot of lives of student-athletes. I also played for him when I was in high school.”
Felton Lingo Sr. played on the Bridgeton High School football team and went on to play quarterback at which is now Delaware State University. His sister, Betty Lingo Dickens, who died in 2015, was a former Bridgeton High School female athlete of the year and a member of the Cumberland County Black Hall of Fame.
Lingo had a tremendous impact in the Cumberland County and historical community as well. While teaching and coaching at Bridgeton, he once led a group of Black ministers and other residents involved in clearing the old Ambury Hill Colored Burying Ground in Cumberland County, some which were the final resting place for the 22nd and 45th Regiments of the U.S. Colored Troops and slaves who made their way to freedom through the Underground Railroad.
According to the New York Times in 1987, Lingo took students with him under the Summer Job Training Partnership Act to help clear some 80-years of dirt and brushes from the graves. On another project, he worked to have burial ground listed as a Historical Site.
”In a historical community like this, Ambury Hill Cemetery takes on extra historical significance,” Lingo told the New York Times.
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