Michigan State pioneer passes away
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Michigan State pioneer passes away

Clifton Roaf, a retired dentist, was Underground Railroad's first passenger

Photo: Clifton Roaf with his son Willie at the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Some sad news on the passing of a Michigan State football pioneer.

My research for book Raye of Light revealed he was the first passenger on Duffy Daugherty's Michigan State Underground Railroad. He was very proud of that, and I was proud to meet him and make him a key figure in the book. His story told in Chapter 11 in Raye of Light: "Passengers"

Note last quote in story I wrote 12-9-14

Death announced on facebook by his daughter, Mary Roaf, a professor at Northern Arizona. Son is Pro and College Football Hall of Famer Willie Roaf.

My story with Clifton Roaf on a family member introducing a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee

Clifton Roaf on introducing his son at the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan is an award-winning sportswriter and the author of "Raye of Light". Tom spent the bulk of his career in San DIego writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He has covered NCAA Tournaments, Super Bowls, Rose Bowls, the NBA Finals and the World Series in a career that included writing for Voice of San Diego, the San Diego Hall of Champions and Chargers.com. He contributes to the Detroit Free Press, Raleigh News & Observer, MLB.com, Rivals.com and the National Football Foundation's Football Matters. He won multiple first-place awards from the San Diego Press Club and first place from the Copley News Service Ring of Truth Awards. The National Football Foundation/San Diego Chapter presented him its Distinguished American Award in 2003. USA Track and Field’s San Diego Chapter presented its President’s Award in 2000.

Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the integration of college football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans. It explains Duffy Daugherty's pioneering role and debunks myths that steered recognition away from him to Bear Bryant.

By Tom Shanahan; Foreword by Tony Dungy; August Publications

David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and biographer: "History writes people out of the story. It's our job to write them back in."