Surrounded by family after battling complications from a stroke, Beloit, Wisconsin native Tarzan Leroy Honor, Sr., passed away on March 25 in California. He was 85. An elite athlete and brilliant entrepreneur, he is remembered for his unwavering commitment to service, family and community. The fifth of eight children born to Howard and Hannah Honor on August 8, 1933. Hannah, while pregnant, was fond of the film adventures of King Tarzan, who traveled to Wisconsin from Africa to rescue the love of his life. She added the French word for 'King" as his middle name, "Leroy".
Raised in the 'Flats', segregated housing for workers of Fairbanks Morse, the engine manufacturer where his father was employed, Tarzan attended the nearby Lincoln Junior High School and Beloit Memorial High School. While he excelled in track, football, basketball and wrestling, his first love was baseball. He was the first Black man to play on the Senior Legion team in 1949 and won the state title. He consistently broke track and field records and in 1951, he was named all-state in basketball, track and football. Tarzan was the conference long jump champion, holder of the Big Eight record and conference 100-yard dash champion. In 1997, he was inducted into the Beloit Sports Hall of Fame.
Tarzan, the "Beloit Bullet", received a football scholarship to Trinidad Junior College and continued his excellence at University of Denver (DU) where he graduated with a degree in Business Administration. Upon graduation he worked as an engineering aid for Stanford Aviation and in 1970, became the first Black, Dean of Student Services at the University of Colorado at Boulder. As Director of Operation Crossroads Africa, he supervised students engineer water systems and roadways. Tarzan also lectured at Cambridge University and frequently traveled to Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana, Ethiopia and Kenya.
While at the University, in 1972, he became the first Black man awarded an airport retail contract at Stapleton Airport in Denver where he opened his second African art and textile store, Tarzan's Place. Later in life, Tarzan relocated to Glendora, CA and married the love of his life, Ronnie Dann in 2001 and formed a power company, Honor Energy, through a partnership with the Manzanita of the Kumeyaay Indigenous Nation. Tarzan donated his time and resources to numerous churches and communities throughout his lifetime.
He is predeceased by his parents, Howard and Hannah (Thompson) Honor, brothers Myron, Howard Jr. and Alan; sisters Geneva Jackson, Rebecca Peer, his son, Tarzan L. Honor Jr. and stepdaughter Diane Dankowski Stewart. He is survived by his devoted wife and partner of 40 years, Ronnie Dann-Honor, sisters Pearl Marzette, Debbie Larsuel, children Joni Honor Goheen, Darryl Honor (Leia), Jami Grove (Winston) and Dale Honor (with first wife Shirley) and stepchildren Karen Perri, Sharon Worsham, Greg Dann, Mary Dann-McNamee and Rosanne Maniscalchi. He leaves behind a host of grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins. Tarzan was cherished in life and will continue to be honored in death by all.
Celebration, funeral and Mass will take place on Monday, April 15, 2019 at Holy Name of Mary, 724 E. Bonita Avenue, San Dimas, CA 91773 at 10 a.m. Graveside services will be held in Wheat Ridge, CO at Mount Olivet Cemetery on Thursday, August 8, 2019.