By Jim Misunas
LARNED — Larned Mayor Bob Pivonka remembers one other time the city named a street after a historical figure. Main Street was also renamed Henry Booth Blvd. to honor one of the original founders of Larned.
The renaming of a portion of 3rd Street as Gene Keady Way paid tribute to Hall of Fame basketball coach Gene Keady, a 1954 Larned High graduate who coached at Beloit High, Hutchinson Community College and Purdue University.
“Gene has been long for so long, it was nice to see the newer younger residents of town realize Larned was where he was born and raised. Gene went on to make a name for himself in the coaching profession.”
Pivonka appreciated that Keady paid tribute to mentors and teachers who helped him along the way.
“Gene is a man who came from humble beginnings who always appreciated where he came from,” Pivonka said. “He was very happy and humbled that we named a street after him. He remembered the people who influenced him growing up and helped him.”
Keady was a junior college football All-American at Garden City Community College. He played football, baseball and competed in track at Kansas State University. Keady was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, but left football after an injury.
Beloit High School hired him as an assistant baseball and football coach, but also needed him as a head basketball coach.
“He was looking for a coaching job and he developed a reputation as a great basketball coach,” Pivonka said. “He was a small-town Kansas boy who had a great work ethic.”