Born in 1944, Wendell Meeks grew up in the southern Illinois town of Centralia, graduating from high school in 1962. Wendell talks extensively about his home town, about its early efforts to integrate the schools, and about Centralia High School sports, especially Orphans basketball. During his junior year, the team made it to the Super-Sectionals, and in his senior year when Wendell started at center, the team made it all the way to the Quarterfinals, where they were defeated by the eventual state champion, Chicago-Carver. Following high school, he attended Oberlin College, where he continued playing several sports. Upon graduation from Oberlin, Wendell went on to a long and successful career in education.