Coach Nathanial Sweetman Washington, Sr. Celebrates 90 years On And Off The Field – Coach Nathanial Sweetman Washington, Sr. celebrated his 90th birthday with over 200 family, friends and neighbors at the Legends Center. Affectionately known as “Coach Washington,’ his accolades are many. Coach was born March 3, 1926. A native of Jacksonville, he is a retired educator of 58 years in the Duval County Public School System as an administrator and athletic coach. Off the field, he has been married 66 years to retired school librarian Ira Black Washington. He is also the proud father of son Nathanial S. Washington., Jr., and Patti N. Washington-Bennefield. After receiving his 1944 high school diploma from historic Stanton High School, he completed advanced degrees at Florida Memorial University and New York University. Coach is blessed with five grandchildren and one great granddaughter. When talking to the Free Press about the good old days, Coach expressed he met his wife while on leave from the Navy. She was a student at Edward Waters College and the rest is history! “I didn’t have any plans to go to college, my thing basically was that I asked the Lord that if I got married, my wife and I would never part and I would never pay rent.” Coach expressed that he has been a member and celebrated deacon for 65+ years at Bethel Institutional Baptist Church. Throughout his career, his resume includes working as a physical education teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal of schools within Duval County. One of his proudest moments is as an entrepreneur as the owner and operator of Patti’s Daddy restaurant. “I started cooking for all the big band era stars that came to Jacksonville. There was a club called the Excelsior and I was right there with the food when they got hungry,” he remarked.
Comedian Terry Harris hosted the celebration and spewed jokes about coaches cooking and his legendary status. Historian James Crooks was also on the program and spoke inspiration words of coach’s historic lifelong commitment to educating and motivating his students. Educator Dr. Betty Burney was all smiles as she remarked that Coach has been a role model to every teacher and administrator in the DCPS school system. Other speakers included Dr. Joylene Weir and Charles Scrivens. In response to the question of his secret to such a rich, healthy and rewarding life, Coach remarked, “I was always bought up in the church and God gave me direction. Remember long life will show you that everything here today, will not be here tomorrow. You will go through a change, enjoy as you go and enjoy the blessings, because the blessing may not come back to you, also learn respect and wait your turn, and trust me, he will.”