This isn’t going to be your standard Bucky’s 5th Quarter blog post. Normally I am here to write about Wisconsin football or basketball, but today I’ve got some words that I’ve got to get off my chest and I’ve got some praises to sing. It may not be your traditional post but I hope you’ll stick with me.
A small town in Wisconsin is hurting today. If you are from the southwest Wisconsin area you know where Fennimore is, but if you are not you might know of it as the little town with the mouse on its main street and the home of the Fennimore Flash and former Wisconsin football wideout, Luke Swan. Fennimore is tiny, just 2,603 people occupy it, but almost everyone in that little town is hurting today because the life of one great man was lost much too soon.
Robert Kenney, aged 55, was a man in the Fennimore community that seemingly influenced everyone he knew in a positive way. If you’re from Fennimore you know all about the great things Robert did for those of us who crossed his path. If you’re not, you’re probably wondering why I am sharing this on here, but first, let me tell you about Robert and maybe it will explain itself.
Robert Kenney was an avid Badgers fan. For 16 years he was a season ticket holder for both Wisconsin football and he recently became a Wisconsin basketball season ticket holder as well. Many fall Saturday’s Robert would be at Badger games sitting alongside my family and me at Camp Randall Stadium. He would be quick with a smile, a joke, or maybe a poke in the gut to keep you on your toes and make sure you were awake. If you ever wandered around section Z1 you probably bumped into him a time or two.
Robert always enjoyed Badger games, but more so he appreciated time with the people he loved most, his children. Most Saturdays one of his four kids would be alongside him at the games. What always struck me about this was that when I looked around Camp Randall, I would see a ton of cell phones out taking pictures. Even if you’ve been coming to games for years the awe and the pageantry that is Badger gameday still captivates you. Everyone is quick to take a picture of the field, the band, or the team to be able to look back and remember.
Robert seemingly always took out his phone to take one single picture. A selfie of himself and whichever kid was there with him. What was in front of him on the field or the court did not matter at all compared to who was sitting next to him. Robert was an incredible father to four great kids, but his impact went even further in our community.
Robert Kenney was a great leader. I say leader because you can’t classify him as just a coach or a teacher although he was very much both of those. Robert coached youth football, basketball, and baseball not only for his children’s classes but for many others.
He coached me in middle school football growing up despite me being five years older than his oldest son. He taught the children of Fennimore how to be better people on and off the field. Robert rarely cared or knew what the score was in the game. What he cared about was that you had fun, you gave your best effort, and you cared about your teammates and those around you.
It wasn’t just Saturdays either. Come Sunday morning Robert would be at the Fennimore United Methodist Church bright and early shaking hands of those attending service. Throughout the service, he would read scripture, lead children’s sermons, or help with the offering. After service he would not just take off for some downtime. Instead, he would be teaching Sunday School or leading the middle schoolers in their confirmation classes.
Sure, he taught you the ins and the outs of religion, but more importantly, he taught you how to carry yourself, how to help others, and how to treat people with kindness.
For many of us, weekends are our most precious and valuable time. We work during the week to relax on those two days off. Not a lot of people can sacrifice that amount of time on those weekends after a long week of work. Robert, however, did that all the time and usually with a smile on his face.
So why am I sharing this?
Well, firstly, I think a person like Robert deserves his praises for what he did for the town of Fennimore. If you were ever around him for even just a few minuscule minutes I know he made a strong impact on your life and that story deserves to be told. In a world with so much negativity out there, I think it is important that we all take a moment to focus on some positives in the world.
Additionally, I think there are others out there in the various communities around this state that are similar to Robert. Maybe you didn’t know Robert personally, but you probably know someone out there in your community that makes sacrifices daily to better the people around them. Maybe you know someone who taught you how to be a good person or someone who inspired you to be great on the field or in your life. If you do know someone like that, I encourage you to reach out to them. Give them thanks for what they may have provided to yourself or to others.
If you don’t know someone like that, that’s ok, maybe you know a family member or a friend who’s helped you along the way. Robert was a leader, a coach, a father, and a friend to many. If you have those important people in your life take some time to tell them you love them today. Don’t push it until tomorrow. Tell them you love them because someday might come where you will not get the chance to do that again.
To Robert, may you rest in peace. I am so thankful for everything you’ve done for me and the community. People like you don’t come around often. I’ll miss you this fall when fans return to Camp Randall, but I know you’ll be there in spirit.
To the Kenney family, I am so so sorry for your loss. To those of you from Fennimore reading this I hope it brought a smile to your face and I hope you’re able to think back of all the positives Robert brought. I know it hurts, but I am sure all of you carry a piece of Robert in one way or another into your life.
To those of you who didn’t know Robert, thanks for taking the time to read about who he was. I hope there is or was someone in your life that brought you as many blessings as he did.