Doug Kenna: A most remarkable man

Jackson native and Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer Doug Kenna, who died Jan. 28 at the age of 88, once achieved one of the greatest scholar-athlete years in college sports history.

You could look it up.

I did.

This was the school year of 1944-45 and Kenna played his sports and took his classes at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

In the fall of 1944, Kenna was a consensus All American quarterback on an undefeated, national championship Army football team. That winter, he was the captain of an Army basketball team that lost only once. And that spring he was the captain of the Army tennis team that finished 11-0. He was the president of his senior class, and graduated No. 2 in that class. He was also his regiment’s commander.

Says former Mississippi Gov. William Winter: “Doug Kenna was a good friend but more than that he was a most amazing man.”

Winter was a sophomore at Ole Miss in 1940 when Kenna came as a freshman after being an All Big Eight football player and state tennis champion at Jackson’s Central High.

That had to be one the great freshman classes of all-time,” Winter says. “Barney Poole and Charlie Conerly were both in that class so you had three future All Americans.

Doug Kenna could do anything athletically,” Winter says. “He was a ping-pong champion as well. I remember him playing an exhibition match at halftime of a basketball game.”

Says Jacksonian Kenneth Foose, also a classmate of Kenna’s at Ole Miss, “It’s just a shame we never got to see him play varsity football at Ole Miss because he’s was as fine an all-around athlete as I’ve ever seen.”

Gov. Winter, again: “Doug was a straight A student and Red Blaik, the legendary Army coach, got him an appointment to West Point to come play football. He was on those great Army teams with Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis.”

Following his graduation, Kenna spent two seasons as an assistant coach to Blaik before becoming an ultra-successful businessman.

In 1973 he was elected president of the National Association of Manufacturers. Kenna served two U.S. Presieents as chairman of investigative committees.

A Graveside Service will be held at the Lakewood Memorial Park, Jackson, Mississippi, on February 11, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. A Memorial Service will be held at The United Military Academy at West Point, Highlands NY, on May 13, 2013, at 1:30 pm.

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