With the passing of Ken Walker of an apparent heart attack on June 28 at the age of 60, Milford lost one of its sports icons.
Walker left behind his wife Nancy, daughter Whitney, son Garrett, sisters JoAnn and Patti-Lynn, along with a legion of friends, teammates, students and players he had impacted in a positive way.
Mourners stretched along every walkway leading to the door to the Cody-White Funeral Home on Sunday. They stood in small groups inching their way forward with a lifetime of personal stories to share.
From youth through adulthood, Walker excelled in every avenue of sport, being the best at his position playing football or baseball, and where he was also the starting point guard on the basketball team.
In recreational annals, Walker was a slow-pitch softball superstar at every infield position.
A 1969 graduate of Milford High, he went on to star in baseball at Central Connecticut.
He returned to teach in the public school system for 35 years, while coaching football and baseball in succession at Milford High, Jonathan Law and Foran High.
Walker coached Foran High to the city’s only state football championship with a 28-24 victory over Daniel Hand of Madison in 1994.
He served as an assistant in football at Milford, Law and Foran from 1973-89 before taking the head coaching position at Foran.
He also was an assistant baseball coach at both Milford and Law before coming to Foran, where he posted 279 victories and led the Lions to the state tournament in each of his seasons.
He was named the New Haven Register’s Area Baseball Coach of the Year in 2011, after leading the Lions to the state semifinals.
“Ken Walker was an outstanding person who excelled in all he did,” said Michael Cummings, assistant superintendent. “As a teacher and a coach, he developed his students and athletes to their greatest potential.
“He had a great sense of humor, was generous to all, and helped all who knew him. His death is a great loss to our community, and an even greater loss to his wonderful family. We will miss him.”
Cliff Bugyi, a longtime colleague and friend, said Walker was a “gentle soul.”
“He saw the best in everyone — and absolutely loved working with kids. He was dedicated to what he did – and always gave one hundred percent. This is a huge loss for all of us.”
“The entire Foran High family is grieving the loss of Ken Walker,” Foran High Principal John Barile said. “Our hearts go out to Ken’s wife Nancy, daughter Whitney and son Garrett.
“Personally, he was a friend and mentor to me for the last eighteen years. Kenny was a genuine and special person. We will miss him dearly.”