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Robert Wilson “Bob” Fulton

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Robert Wilson "Bob" Fulton

Robert Wilson “Bob” Fulton (1916-1995) was born in Michigan and moved to Lake Worth with his family in 1924, where he graduated from Lake Worth High School in 1934. Fulton was an All-American football player at the University of Tennessee and earned master’s degrees in history and physical education at the University of Florida in 1948. During World War II and the Korean Conflict, Fulton reached the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Army Reserves.

After World War II, Fulton taught history and physical education and coached football and basketball at Lake Worth High School. He also coached the Lake Worth Rebels, a football team of local men returned from military service. In Delray Beach, Fulton was principal of Delray Beach Junior High School and of Seacrest (Atlantic) High School when Yvonne Lee became the first black student in 1961.

Fulton was elected school superintendent of Palm Beach County as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law and the county resisted federal orders to desegregate the schools under Brown v. Board of Education. Instead of waiting for forced integration by the courts, Fulton implemented a gradual planned transition and facilitated the merging of the segregated teachers’ organizations into the Palm Beach County Classroom Teachers’ Association. During his tenure, Fulton also handled a teachers’ strike, a $27 million bond issue, and the land purchase for the north campus of Palm Beach Community College. He resigned in 1968 to work for Florida Atlantic University as a financial adviser.

In 1996 the Palm Beach County School Board renamed its district headquarters the Fulton-Holland Service Center in honor of Robert Fulton and civil rights activist William Holland, Sr., who said, “Bob Fulton realized the time had come and there wasn't any need to put up any strong resistance.”

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