WICKLIFFE — Kenneth H. Rollins, 89, of Greencastle, Ind., passed away Tuesday, October 9, 2012.
He was born on September 14, 1923, in Charleston, Missouri, to William Egbert Rollins and Olga Corinne Malone Rollins.
Kenny was a 1941 graduate of Wickliffe, Kentucky High School. He attended the University of Kentucky from 1941 until 1943 where he started on the ’42 Varsity Basketball team and played on the Baseball team. He left UK in 1943 to serve in the U.S. Navy. While in the Navy, Kenny played basketball under coach Tony Hinkle and was stationed at Great Lakes, Memphis, San Diego, and Hollister.
In 1946 he returned to UK and was named the UK MVP his junior year. During his junior and senior years, he served as Captain of the team. Kenny was part of the Fabulous 5 who won UK’s first NCAA championship in 1948.
Kenny was part of the 1948 Olympic Team, which won the Gold in London, this also was his proudest moment in life. Returning to the United States, he was drafted as a point guard by the BAA Ft. Wayne Pistons, traded to the Chicago Stags, and was named 1948-49 Rookie of the Year. After two seasons in Chicago, he went on to coach and play with the Louisville Aluminites, until being picked up by the NBA Boston Celtics, where he played for 1½ years. He was also pursued by the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds baseball farm teams. In 1995, Ken was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame and in 2006 he was inducted into the Kentucky High School Hall of Fame.
During his career in the packaging industry, Kenny lived in Louisville, Grand Rapids, Mich., Lexington, Evansville, and Lawrenceburg, where he retired in 1986 from the Smurfit Corporation. He and his wife, Mabel, retired to Bradenton, Florida, in 1994. Mabel preceded Kenny in death in 1996. Kenny relocated to Greencastle in 2004 to live with his son.
He was a member of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, where he served as a deacon, Sand Springs Baptist Church in Lawrenceburg, the Kentucky Alumni Association, and served as past vice-president of the K-men’s Association.
Surviving are his children, Kevin Rollins and wife Vickie of Greencastle and Corinne Nelson and husband Jim of North Fort Myers, Fla.; a brother, Phil Rollins of Louisville; three grandchildren, Bruce Lee Keenon and wife Beth, Jennifer Rollins, and Benjamin Rollins and wife Calli; one great-grandson, Matthew Keenon; numerous nieces; nephews; and an abundance of UK fans.
Kenny loved to sing, especially hymns and special music at church. He delighted in the honor of singing “My Old Kentucky Home” at Rupp Arena during Senior Day in 1996.
A Celebration of Kenny’s Life will be held Friday, October 19, 2012, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the K-House located at 1398 Sports Center Drive in Lexington.
Inurnment will be held on Saturday, October 20, 2012, at 10 a.m. at Lexington Cemetery Columbarium.
Memorials in Kenny’s name may be directed to: the University of Kentucky General Scholarship Fund; or the University of One’s Choice.
Arrangements are being handled by Bittles and Hurt Funeral Home of Greencastle, Indiana.
Condolences and expressions of sympathy may be shared with the family at www.BittlesandHurt.com.