Beloit had ties to the late, great Gale Sayers.

Those who are not of a certain age can be forgiven for not knowing much about Gale Sayers. It has been a long time since he slashed defenses and ran into the National Football League record books, before his career was cut short by injuries.

Suffice it to say he’s in the conversation as the greatest running back of all time, and for those who love football Sayers is worth looking up and reading about.

When Sayers passed away last week at 77, though, Beloiters had another reason to remember him.

He was part of a largely African American group of investors that purchased and owned the Ford dealership in Beloit for a few years. The Chicago Bears’ great visited the community several times to promote the dealership, joining in community activities and helping to inspire young people.

Kids were able to see a Black man who was successful on the field and in business, who encouraged them to believe in themselves and reach for their potential. It was a message that resonated with kids—and adults—of all races and ages.

Sayers was a throwback to a time when great athletes carried themselves as role models. He will be missed. And he will be remembered.