Henry Arthur Kean, Sr. (1894-1955) was born on April 22, 1894 to William T. and Alice (Garrett) Kean in Louisville. Henry was the first of four children: Olive, William Lee, and Daniel Gardner. The family lived on Delaware Street (now Garland Avenue) in Limerick Neighborhood. Henry earned letters in four sports at Fisk University, and he was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Henry was a Second Lieutenant in the 350th Field Artillery Regiment of the African American 92nd Infantry Division of the US Army during World War I. He taught math and coached football for 10 years at Central High School. In 1931, Kean was athletic director of Kentucky State University where he coached football, baseball, and basketball. Between 1930 and 1935, he married Bessie Fogle (1908-2001), and together the couple had two children: Henry Jr. and Carroll. In 1935, he earned a master’s degree from the University of Indiana. In 1943, Henry was athletic director and football coach at Tennessee State University Tigers (TSU). Henry retired from coaching in 1954 after a heart attack. He died on December 12, 1955 from a heart attack. He was buried in Section B, Range 14, Lot 69 of Eastern Cemetery.
According to TSU, “To thousands Henry Arthur Kean was affectionately known as ‘Coach.’ To competitors on the football field he was ‘The Fox.’ Kean was recognized by all as a powerhouse icon in TSU athletic history, producing 17 All-Americans… He preferred to be known as a teacher of football rather than a coach. Sports writers rated Kean’s ability so high he was never regarded as the underdog. Kean’s Keansmen football team won the Black National Championships in 1946, 1947 and 1954. His 24-year football record stood proudly at 162 wins, 30 loss, 5 ties. His five-year basketball record from 1944-1949 stood at 102 wins, 18 losses.” In 1958, Henry was added to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Football Hall of Fame. Photos of Henry are from TSU.