Booker Edgerson is remembered by friends in Rock Island as a lightning-quick halfback who went on to play 106 games in the 1960s for the Buffalo Bills as a standout defensive back, earning an American Football League championship ring with the Bills in 1965.

Edgerson, who played pro football until 1971, also is a man who never has forgotten his hometown.

He'll return to Rock Island on Saturday to help friend Eudell Watts III and his family raise funds for the Rock Island Public Library Foundation.

Edgerson, a former president of the NFL Players Alumni Association, will sign autographs at an event that will include a silent auction and showcase artwork of the Watts family, which is attempting to raise funds to provide children's reading materials for the library.

"Booker wants to help us reach our goal, and he's a good friend to be willing to take the time to come out here and help," Watts said.

Watts' mother, Lorene Watts, was an art teacher and a member of the Rock Island Public Library Board. At the time of her death in the 1970s, the family gave the Rock Island library $2,000 for new children's books.

Eudell Watts III, who serves on the library board, said the family believes it is again time to help grow the children's collection at the library. The group is hoping to raise $25,000 to fund a perpetual gift, allowing the interest to be used annually to provide new children's books.

Edgerson will be in attendance when the group hosts a reception and fundraiser from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Rock Island Public Library, 401 19th St., Rock Island. Watts said all monies raised will go to the Lorene Evans Watts Fund for Children's Materials at the library.

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