Fam­ily, friends mourn­ing loss of Ken Larsen

The Prince George Citizen - - SPORTS - Ja­son PETERS

Prince Ge­orge has sport­ing le­gends. Ken Larsen, in­ducted into the Prince Ge­orge Sports Hall of Fame in 2005 for his achieve­ments in bas­ket­ball and base­ball, passed away on Fri­day af­ter suf­fer­ing a stroke. He was 76.

Larsen stood an im­pos­ing six-foot-six but was known for his kind, soft-spo­ken de­meanour and his easy laugh. He was never shy about do­nat­ing his time so it was no sur­prise that he also be­came a mem­ber of the hall of fame’s board of di­rec­tors.

“It was with pro­found shock and sad­ness we learned of Ken’s pass­ing,” said hall of fame pres­i­dent Gale Rus­sell. “Ken was an in­te­gral part of our fam­ily, loved by ev­ery­one. We will for­ever miss that won­der­ful smile and gen­tle man­ner that has be­come his legacy.”

Larsen was born in Cal­gary on Nov. 11, 1935, but grew up in Prince Ge­orge. In his youth, he ex­celled in base­ball and football and even spent a cou­ple of years inside the box­ing ring. But, with his height and ath­leti­cism, he was a nat­u­ral on the bas­ket­ball court.

Larsen played high school bas­ket­ball at Prince Ge­orge Ju­nior/Se­nior High School and later wore the uni­form of Everett Ju­nior Col­lege. In 1958, while a mem­ber of the Van­cou­ver Clover­leafs, he was named the team’s rookie of the year.

Larsen also spent time with the se­nior A Port Al­berni Ath­let­ics and, in the early 1960s, was re­cruited by the Lethbridge Broders.

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With Larsen in their lineup, they won three con­sec­u­tive se­nior A na­tional cham­pi­onships.

In 1962, the Broders rep­re­sented Canada at a tour­na­ment in the Philippines, an event that was in­tended to be a world cham­pi­onship but was re­duced to in­vi­ta­tional sta­tus be­cause of po­lit­i­cal is­sues that kept Eastern Bloc teams from par­tic­i­pat­ing. Larsen and his Broders team­mates were handed sil­ver medals at the end of the com­pe­ti­tion.

The next year, Larsen suited up for Team Canada at the Pan Amer­i­can Games in Brazil.

He played his fi­nal sea­son with the Broders in 1963-64 and then joined a Win­nipeg-area club that went on to win a sil­ver medal at the first Canada Games.

As a base­ball player, Larsen was tal­ented enough that he earned a shot with a Stock­ton, Calif., team that fed into the Van­cou­ver Moun­ties or­ga­ni­za­tion. Base­ball then took him to Cal­gary, where he played in a high­cal­i­bre se­nior loop. While there, Larsen also worked out with the Cal­gary Stampeders of the Cana­dian Football League and played in ex­hi­bi­tion games.

Kathy Mears, an­other P.G. Sports Hall of Fame in­ductee and board mem­ber, said Larsen was a “quiet, unas­sum­ing man” who sup­ported the board’s ac­tiv­i­ties, stated his opin­ions and never pushed his ideas on any­body.

“He will be sadly missed at our meet­ings,” Mears added. “His cheer­ful smile and at­ti­tude made meet­ings a joy to at­tend.”

Larsen was also ac­tive in the Elder Cit­i­zens Re­cre­ation As­so­ci­a­tion and Toast­mas­ters.

Larsen is sur­vived by his wife of 30 years, Rita, and by five chil­dren – sons Ken Jr., Ron and Nathan, and daugh­ters Zoe and Tanya.

He also leaves be­hind seven grand­chil­dren, as well as a brother, Henry, and a sis­ter, Ber­tie.

Zoe, the el­dest daugh­ter, saw her dad as a large pres­ence in her life, quite lit­er­ally. But, more than any­thing, she re­garded him as a lov­ing fam­ily man and a true gen­tle­man.

“He was a very laid-back guy, had a great sense of hu­mour,” she said. “He en­joyed all the lit­tle mo­ments of life. He was very ac­cept­ing of peo­ple for who they were and he loved to laugh.”

As per Larsen’s re­quest, no funeral ser­vice will be held. The fam­ily plans to scat­ter his ashes next sum­mer.

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