Blue Period: University of Kentucky Mourns Two of Its Own

Marc DaleyAnalyst IApril 2, 2008

One was an institution, affectionately named "Mr. Wildcat," for his decades of service as the equipment manager for the University of Kentucky basketball team.  Of course, one sentence can't sum up his accomplishments. 

To players, coaches, and staff he was a confidante, father (and grandfather) figure, encourager, joker, friend, and life of the party.

The other came to campus with hopes of joining the Wildcat legacy of prominent big men such as Bowie, Turpin, Robey, Spivey, et al. But, after two years, he became frustrated and set up shop at the hated rival University of Louisville, where he joined a fellow Wildcat ex-patriate for two reasonably productive years.

Bill Keightley and Marvin Stone passed away this week. 

Keightley fell while attending a Cincinnati Reds game and suffered internal bleeding.  He was a physically large man with a heart bigger than he was, who enjoyed every minute of his life and everyone who came through the hallowed annals of Wildcat basketball.

But my favorite memory comes from a UK football game he attended. 

Once a year, my wife's company invites its female employees to attend a game in its corporate luxury box. 

During a game where UK beat Middle Tennessee State, Keightley joined my wife and her colleagues for part of the action.  She said he was joking, flirting, posing for pictures and was more than a joy to be around at an age when most people have quietly gone to pasture.

In Stone's case, it reminds us, as fans, that we forget players are human, and, in the case of college athletes, kids who haven't fully developed or realized their potential. 

Stone passed away doing what he loved—playing ball—in a game for a team based in Saudi Arabia. 

During his time at UK, his statistics weren't up to expectations, and he had trouble catching the ball, so much so that his nickname among certain fans became "Hands Of."

Keightley will have a public viewing at Rupp Arena, where he saw every game since the arena was built in 1977, plus countless more.  Stone probably will have a more private affair.  But both services will be attended by family and friends who loved them dearly and will miss their presence. 

Needless to say, UK fans have a big hole in their hearts that only will heal with time.