An outstanding athlete in his day, Forest Fletcher, brought his immeasurable talents as a coach and leader to Washington and Lee and served the University for nearly 30 years.
Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, he grew up in Chicago where he participated in the Chicago Athletic and Pleasure Club with the legendary Knute Rockne. Fletcher and Rockne went on together to Notre Dame and Fletcher became captain of the track team and was a champion hurdler and sprinter, setting five indoor world records. Fletcher also competed in the 1912 Olympic games in Stockholm where he was a teammate of another American legend, Jim Thorpe.
After graduating from Notre Dame in 1912, Fletcher coached in high school for two years before coming to W&L in 1914, where he taught physical education and coached track. In 1917-18, he organized a group of about 40 W&L students into an Ambulance Unit that served in France in World War I and received the Croix de Guerre following their first engagement.
After the war, Fletcher returned to W&L to serve as track and cross country coach and head of the physical education department for 22 years. He coached W&L to two South Atlantic championships in cross country and to a state and Southern Conference championship in track. He was instrumental in having boxing removed from W&L, contending with great feeling that any college sport which had its objective as the incapacitation of one's opponent had no place in intercollegiate athletics.
In 1945, at the age of 57, and after a long illness, Fletcher died in Lexington.