|May 29, 2008
|Kenny Preskenis Scholarship Fund Benefit
For all the years the South Boston Little League has been in existence, the young athletes who played in it have had many great coaches. One particular coach whom I was lucky to have, along with a few of my brothers, was Kenny Preskenis.
I heard that Kenny played the first year Little League started. From then on, his heart was in the game of baseball. For this reason, he dedicated 43 years to Little League, not only coaching but also teaching and mentoring players. He was involved in Little League right up to his tragic and unexpected death.
During his coaching years he was a Professor at Framingham State College, teaching his favorite subject, “Mathematics”. Kenny initiated a program in some South Boston Schools so students could participate in the Math Olympics. Many of boys and girls who took part in the Olympics were accepted at Boston Latin and Boston Latin Academy.
Joe Rooney says, “Back in January of 2002, I suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm. During the critical period of my early hospitalization at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital in Hanover, N.H., Kenny stopped by at least weekly to check with my brother Jackie at Rooney Real Estate to see how I was progressing. This was the “caring” teacher/coach I shall always remember.”
The following is an article written by a colleague of Kenny’s at Framingham State College:
Dr. Kenneth J. Preskenis graduated from Boston College High School in 1957 and earned his Bachelor’s degree from Boston College in 1961. Ken continued his study of mathematics under the direction of Dr. Andrew Browder of Brown University where he earned his M.S. in 1967 and his PhD in 1971. Due to his love of learning and desire to share mathematics with others, Ken chose to teach at the college level. After teaching at Newton College of the Sacred Heart and Boston College, Ken joined the faculty at Framingham State College in 1977. He continued his research into Analysis, publishing a significant extension of the Weierstrass Approximation Theorem in 1984. Ken believed in serving others and the community: he founded the Mathematics Olympics Program at five South Boston parochial schools during his 1992 sabbatical and served as a South Boston Little League coach for 43 years. He enjoyed using baseball as a teaching tool to demonstrate the beauty and the power of mathematics. Ken was a mentor to students and junior faculty, always eager to encourage others and to share his love of learning. He was always willing to serve the Department, the College, and the community.
Ken loved South Boston, where he was a life-long resident. The scholarship established in his name will assist a newly entering full-time student from South Boston, freshman or transfer, to attend Framingham State College. Because Ken had a passion for learning and high expectations for himself and for his students, applicants for the scholarship will be required to provide evidence of academic excellence, participation in extra-curricular activities, and/or service to the school or local community.
To recognize Ken’s belief in education without bounds, all those who desire to learn and continue their education at the college level are encouraged to apply regardless of their choice of major.
Here are several quotes from those who knew Ken:
”Ken’s purpose was to arouse the interest of children in math by making it enjoyable. I recall the assemblies of students from all over South Boston as Ken announced the results of the Math competition. It was a happy time and there was no doubt on that day that Ken had stimulated a lively interest among the children.”
William Bulger, past President of Massachusetts Senate and former President of University of Massachusetts
“Ken unselfishly spent a lifetime teaching, coaching and helping young people. Every time I drive by the baseball field in South Boston and see a young boy or girl being helped by a coach, I think of Ken Preskenis.”
Raymond Flynn, former Mayor of Boston
“Dr. Kenneth Preskenis was a respected and much loved professor who published many works in mathematics journals and was active in the mathematics community. During his long career, Ken brought his love for mathematics to hundreds of schoolchildren and thousands of college students.”
Dr. Helen Heineman, President, Framingham State College
"Ken Preskenis was a true son of South Boston and a wonderful man with a generous heart who volunteered his time and energy to influence many young people in our community to focus on education, especially the study of Mathematics as a way to improve their lives. Ken was a good and caring citizen who contributed much to our neighborhood.
Congressman Stephen Lynch
“As a young boy, I knew and admired Kenny Preskenis as a wonderful Little League coach. He was a likable and talented teacher of the fundamentals of the game for over forty years. Later, I was able to bear witness to his talent as a math professor. He started the South Boston Math Olympics where hundreds of children joyfully participated in math games. During these times, Kenny made math fun. In today’s competitive academic arena, kids need to be excited about math. We could really use Math Olympics now and we miss Kenny dearly.”
Senator Jack Hart
“I can not go to a Little League game, even today, without thinking about Kenny Preskenis. He was the heart and soul of the South Boston Little League program from its very first year, in which he played, until the day he died. He was a coach, a teacher, a community activist, and a friend. He never stopped teaching whether it was how to lay down a perfect bunt or how to solve a complicated math problem. The South Boston community is a better place because Kenny touched so many lives; it is a sadder place because of his death.”
Representative Brian Wallace
“Kenny was a great friend, coach and leader in our community. He will always be remembered for the lessons he taught both on and off the field. Whether it was in math class or on the baseball diamond, we could always count on Kenny to draw the best out of his students and players.”
City Councilor Michael Flaherty, At-Large
“Ken was a great community leader of South Boston, an honest and decent man. He was an educator, organizer and a fine coach. The Mayor’s Cup 9- and 10-year-old baseball tournament was first started by Ken in South Boston and has become one of the most coveted citywide baseball tournaments for young players. Baseball players and coaches from across the city look forward to playing in this tournament each year”.
City Councilor Bill Linehan
Because of Kenny’s involvement both in and around the South Boston community, he is admired and respected by Rep. Martin Walsh, Dorchester, and City Councilors Steve Murphy and John Connolly. They have been extremely supportive in honoring Kenny by providing a South Boston/Framingham State College scholarship in his name.
On Saturday, June 21 at 12:00 PM at Suffolk Downs there will be a Ken Preskenis Scholarship Fund Benefit. Admission is $40.00 including lunch, preferred parking and a race program. Deadline to obtain tickets is June 11 and may be obtained by calling P.J. Preskenis at 617 327 9213 or Danny Ryan at 617 319 5368.
Did you have the pleasure of knowing Kenny? Share your remembrances with us.