KEN JOHNSON

Im a short, old, slow guy whos eternally cursed with a love for a game for tall, young, fast guys.  I was born in Ashland, Kansas in 1941, and later moved to Topeka, Kansas where I attended Topeka High School (class of 59) and Washburn University (BBA 67).   In between, I spent three years in Europe, courtesy of the US Army.  I then went to graduate school at KU, getting an MS in Business in 1970.

Upon graduating from KU, I landed in Des Moines as the State Registrar and Director of Records and Statistics with the Iowa State Department of Health.  After two years, I went to work for the Iowa Hospital Association for 14 years, Blue Cross Blue Shield for six years, and then owned and operated an insurance firm, providing consulting and educational services, while spending considerable time teaching business and healthcare policy at two local universities.

When I was ten years old, my Dad and I drove from western Kansas to Lawrence to see the University of Kansas Jayhawks play.  The year was 1951.  I was becoming a fan then, listening to most of their games on radio (TV didnt reach out that far then).  The Jayhawks played in Hoch Auditorium, and its small capacity was overflowing  -- with people and excitement.  Big Clyde Lovellette and Dean Kelley were the stars that night as they won, on the way to a 16-8 record.  The next year they won the NCAA national championship and went on to the Olympics!  I was hooked forever as a KU basketball junkie.

At Topeka High, we had what was reported to be the tallest high school basketball team in the US, averaging 65 (extremely tall for that era).  The starting center was 65 Fred Slaughter, who later went to UCLA as a starter on the first of their long string of national championships.  The off guard was 63 Jim Dumas who later started for KU.  His brother Fred, at 60 the shortest starter, was the point guard. The power forward was 68 Owen Quick, who went on to star for Washburn.  The team went undefeated  (26-0) and won the state tournament.

During that time, Wilt Chamberlain starred for KU.  On several occasions he attended Topeka HS basketball games (KU was heavily recruiting Slaughter).  It was rumored that he bedded some of my classmates.  I didnt even come close to making the team at THS, but did play a lot of basketball in the Army.  The highlight of my career was guarding Bobby Joe Hill who had starred earlier at Bradley.  (He torched me for 30+ points in the Battalion championship game).  After the Army, I played YMCA ball until I reached about 43, at which time I decided to retire as I was getting to be the last guy chosen.  

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to see the Jayhawks up close.  Chamberlain played when I attended Topeka High School, JoJo White starred when I was in graduate school at KU, and Danny Manning excelled while both my daughters attended Kansas.  My oldest daughter was in the same class as  Manning, and the youngest two years behind.  So, from 84 through 90, I spent a lot of time in Lawrence.  Living in Iowa, I also had the great opportunity to see Raef LaFrentz, Nick Collison and Kirk Hinrich during their high school years.

Both daughters married Jayhawkers, and we now have six thoroughbred Jayhawk grandchildren, one of which is now a third-generation Jayhawker. One son-in-law starred on the KU diving team, and the other served as backup quarterback on the KU football team from 1987 to 1989 (he had the misfortune of being there at the same time as  Kelly Donahue ).  Hes now the head football coach at Holland Hall High School in Tulsa, which won their league championship last year.

Dr. Ken Johnson

Updated,  January, 2010

Kenneth N. Johnson                           
907 58th Street
Des Moines, IA  50312
(515) 491-9166
Feel free to contact me at: [email protected]