Remembering a Spartan: Dick Lord

27 02 2020

I am one of the archivists at the University Archives and Historical Collections (UAHC) located here on campus in Conrad Hall.  I am also an avid hockey fan.  While I was on the reference desk, I received an email from a patron requesting information about a past Michigan State College (MSC) student who played on our hockey team.  His name was Dick Lord.  The researcher discovered that before attending MSC, Lord was accepted into McGill University in Montreal, but his scholarship was revoked after the university found out he was Black.  The researcher wanted to know what led him to MSC.  This story piqued my interest, and I wanted to find out more about Dick Lord.  My colleagues, Megan and Susan, had already done some research and compiled most of the sources used for this post.  They did not know Lord was turned away from McGill or why he decided to go to MSC.  It could have be that Dick Lord was recruited by MSC after McGill University turned him away.  McGill’s loss was MSC’s gain.

It was  1949 and Dick Lord, was recruited by Harold Paulsen to play hockey at Michigan State College, he was most likely one of the first Black hockey players to play hockey in the NCAA.  When he first arrived, he played on the freshman team in his first season, because back then, freshman were not eligible to play on the varsity squad.  He played one season for Paulsen at forward and scored eight goals among 17 points.  In his final two seasons at MSC, Lord moved to defense, and was coached by the newly hired Amo Bessone, who began his 28-year career at MSU in 1951.  Lord scored three goals and five points as a junior and 13 points in his senior year.  He led the team in penalty minutes both seasons.  As mentioned earlier, he was considered the first Black player to play college hockey, but some reports claim that Lloyd Robinson may have been the first, at Boston University in 1947.


Dick Lord posing for a MSC Hockey team photo, December 7, 1951. (A009189)

During his time at MSC, Richard Leslie Lord earned a degree in Chemical Engineering, and was a member of the class of 1953.  As a member of the MSC hockey team, he served as co-captain from 1952 to 1953.  He was also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi and President of the Varsity Club and the Canadian Club.

This era did not see many if any Black hockey players at any level.  Growing up in Montreal would explain his interest in the sport.  His father was an immigrant from Barbados, his mother emigrated from Montserrat, and both parents instilled the ethic of hard work in him and his siblings.  Lord delivered newspapers, groceries, and shoveled snow to earn money.  As a teenager Lord “discovered a passion for sport,” which included hockey and football.  Living in a neighborhood that lacked funding for organized sports led Lord to start his own athletic club called the Tornadoes Boys Club.  It was at this club he put together hockey and baseball teams, which his father coached and mentored the players.  This experience led Lord to Michigan State and an eventual scholarship to play college hockey.

After graduation, Lord moved back to Montreal and became an iconic figure within the community in business and politics and with charitable organizations.  He worked for Dominion Tar and Chemical Co., the City of Montreal and the Immigration Appeal Board of Canada.


Dick Lord at MSU Hockey Bust receiving inaugural Distinguished Spartan Award, April 17, 1989. (A009197)

He was vice president of the Quebec Liberal Party, and in 1965, he ran to represent the Liberal Party in Montreal’s Notre-Dame-de-Grace riding but lost the race.  In 1989, he was honored with the inaugural Distinguished Spartan Award.  This award honored people who have distinguished themselves within the MSU Hockey program.  He was very involved with his family and his community; and for this, we remember him as a great member of our Spartan Nation.

Written by Tim McRoberts 2/27/2020


Michigan State Hockey Program Directory, Team Awards, P. 142, February 21, 2020

MSU UAHC Photograph Collection



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