Biographical / Historical
The Ontario Lakers Youth organization was founded in 1964 by Walter C. Pierce (1946-1991) and his brother Ronald, in the Adams Morgan section of Washington, DC. Walter created the organization to provide the local youth with recreation and jobs. Youths from Adams Morgan joined the club's football, baseball, and basketball teams and competed against other teams throughout the city. The strength of their programs led to the creation of the Ghetto Invitational, a citywide basketball tournament. In addition to sports, members of the Ontario Lakers created a community garden, hosted community dances, participated in activities ranging from kung fu to tie-dye, took field trips around the region, and performed yard work and sold Christmas trees to raise fund for their activities.
Much of the Ontario Lakers programming took place at the Community Park West. This park was once a lot owned by a developer who planned to erect a luxury apartment building on the site. The land's history as a burial ground prevented initial building construction; in the interim, Pierce organized neighborhood youth to clear the lot and transform the space into a much-needed community park. This instigated a multi-year legal battle with developers, historic groups, and Congress before the lot was ultimately designated a public park in 1978.
Mr. Pierce was involved in numerous civic activities and served as the chairman of the Adams Morgan Organization (AMO). Prior to his untimely death in 1991; Walter C. Pierce was recognized by several organizations, including the Washington, D.C. City Council, for his dedicated service to the community. After his death, the large and heavily used green space that he helped to turn into a public park was renamed Walter Pierce Park, in his honor.