They say the best measure of a person is what they say about you when you pass on.
The obituary for former Foran baseball/football coach Ken Walker from late June includes a telling line:
“He was the kind of person people wanted to know.”
In doing research for my newspaper column to advance Wednesday’s ceremony at Foran, where the school will name its baseball field in the late Walker’s honor before its game with Law, it was hard to think of the properly way to capture a man who seemed to mean so much to so many people throughout the Milford community.
I wasn’t alone thinking this way.
“It’s hard to put into words,” said Walker’s longtime friend Cliff Bugyi. “He wasn’t just a coach and teacher. He was great man.”
The ceremony is slated to start around 3:15 p.m., with the game itself starting close to 4.
Dick Jeynes was Walker’s baseball coach at Milford High. Walker later worked on Jeynes’ staff as an assistant after he attended Central Connecticut. Jeynes remembers Walker as a great athlete, but a better person.
“He was a very practical person,” Jeynes said. “He was down to earth. He had a lot of common sense. He wasn’t interested in some philosophical thing that was 10 years away. He was interested in how he could help his kids right now. That was the practicality of Kenny Walker. If one went to his gym class when it concluded, you’d see kids crowded around him for his jokes and his comments. That showed how much they liked him.”
For Foran football coach Jeff Bevino, who worked alongside Walker in the school’s physical education department, his loss has been felt all school year.
“It’s still different every day,” Bevino said. “I still wait for him to come out and tell a joke. It’s not the same and it’s never going to be the same. We move on, but I tell you, the memories, whenever something happens in a gym class, I think ‘what would Kenny say about this?’ … Something funny.”
It’s hard to find guys like Walker as much these days, the sports “lifers.” The guys who coach (or even play) more than one sport. The guys who make sacrifices — daily — to help other people’s children become better adults.
Walker, who coached baseball at Foran from 1986-2003 and then in 2011-12, took the time off to help his son Garrett’s career. The two were able to coach together during his latter stint with the Lions, something that meant a lot.
“Even though he died too young, he had a pretty amazing life,” said David Esposito, Walker’s first captain at Foran. ” That’s to me an America man’s fairy tale. He got to do what he loved and share it with his son. That’s what makes it such a great story.”
Bevino might sum up Walker and his impact the best.
“The world lost a great man.”