William Lee “Bill” Kean

William Lee “Bill” Kean (1899-1958) was born on October 12, 1899 to William T. and Alice (Garrett) Kean in Louisville. Bill was the third of four children: Henry Arthur, Olive, and Daniel Gardner. The family lived on Delaware Street (now Garland Avenue) in Limerick Neighborhood. Bill attended Central High School where he was captain of the basketball, baseball, and football teams. At 5’7” and 140 lbs, Bill earned letters in four sports at Howard University and was quarterback for the Negro All-American team in 1922. Bill was a Private in the Student Army Training Corps during World War I. Upon returning to Louisville in 1923, he taught PE and health; coached football, basketball, baseball, tennis, and track; and served as athletic director at Central High School. Bill earned a master’s degree from Indiana University, and a doctorate from Allen University. In 1939, he married Helen Anthony (1908-2011), daughter of Robert L. and Carrie (Gaddie) Anthony. Together the couple had two children: William Anthony and Alice Carolyn, and they lived at 3306 Grand Avenue in Parkland Neighborhood. Bill continued working until his death on April 29, 1958. He was buried in Section B, Range 14, Lot 69 of Eastern Cemetery with a military headstone.

Bill is remembered as winning more games than any other coach in the history of Kentucky high school sports. His football team had a record of 225 wins, 45 losses, 12 ties. The basketball team won 856 games with 83 losses. His teams won four National Negro High School titles and five state championships in the Kentucky High School Athletic League. Bill was posthumously named to the Kentucky High School Athletic association Hall of Fame in 1988, the National High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1993, and the Afro-American Hall of Fame in 1995. Photo of Bill and his family is from “Courier-Journal” March 30, 1956. 1955 Central High School Basketball Team photo is from “Courier-Journal” August 7, 2005. The photo includes Bill Kean in the front with the plaque. The players from left to right are Charlie Hampton, Alvin Stevenson, Edgar Smallwood, John Lucius, and James Beck. 1952 Photo of Central High School Football Coaches is from Wade Hall Papers at UK. The photo includes men of the Central High School Football team. Bill Kean is kneeling in the front. From left to right are E.Q. Adams, A.L. Johnson, Victor K. Perry, Lyman T. Johnson, and Daniel White. Kean was the head coach and the other men were assistant coaches. Lyman T. Johnson was the business manager.