By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The calm in a storm. The rock, no matter how bad things would get.
That’s how longtime athletic administrator Karen Leinaar described Ken Fletcher, who served as director of Kalamazoo Christian’s athletic department for three decades and was among those from the Kalamazoo Valley Association who mentored Leinaar when she served at Delton Kellogg during the 1980s and 90s.
Fletcher died Sept. 25 at age 77.
He had spent 40 years total in education, also as a teacher and coach, before retiring in 2006.
“Anytime we had an issue in the league, he was the calming voice, he was the voice or reason,” said Leinaar, now athletic director at Bear Lake and executive director of the Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association. “Being a mathematician, he was a very logical thinker – but he had the compassion of a priest.
“You never saw Ken disheveled. You never saw Ken frustrated. He always had a smile and kind word for everybody – it didn’t matter the color of their uniform or if it was an official or spectator.”
Fletcher had graduated from Kalamazoo Christian in 1961 and was part of the boys basketball team that won the Class C championship in 1959. He went on to Calvin College (now Calvin University), where he majored in mathematics and earned a degree in education, and also continued his basketball and baseball careers. He later received master’s degrees in in athletic administration from University of Michigan and mathematics from Western Michigan University.
Kalamazoo Christian’s boys basketball team also won Class C championships in 1983 and 2001 during Fletcher’s AD tenure. But Leinaar noted that Fletcher was a great advocate as well for the school’s girls programs, which often were more frequently successful – the softball team, for example, won six MHSAA Finals titles over seven seasons from 1996-2002. “He just loved kids,” she added.
Fletcher was named his region’s Athletic Director of the Year by the MIAAA in 1989.
He is survived in part by his wife of 56 years, Judy, three children and 14 grand- and great-grandchildren. Click to view Fletcher’s full obituary.
PHOTOS collected by the Fletcher family.