KENNETH LEE RANKIN
Ken Rankin is regarded as perhaps the greatest sports coach in the history of Interior Alaska. Countless community leaders in Fairbanks and elsewhere can trace their early commitment to success through his instruction. Thirty-plus years of his coaching yielded for Little League baseball five Alaska State titles, and wins at the district and regional levels. Ken led Little League baseball teams from Fairbanks to Dodger Stadium and the Little League World Series.
“Longtime Fairbanks Little League coach and mentor Kenneth Lee Rankin, 73, passed away at his home in Fairbanks on November 7th, 2002.
Ken was born September 2nd, 1929 in Knoxville, Iowa. He was the son of Lloyd and Maude (Carter) Ranking. He attended school in Knoxville. After high school, he served in the United State Navy for four years before completing his education at Upper Iowa University. After graduating from Upper Iowa, Ken came north to Fairbanks, where he worked at the Air Force Station in Clear, Alaska until his retirement from Laborer’s Local 942.
From the late fifties to the late nineties summer meant one thing for Ken Rankin – Little League baseball. He started coaching in 1959 with the late Jim Growden. Their team was known as the Pan Am Jets. Later Ken took the helm as Coach and Manager of the Fairbanks Tundra Tours Yankees compiling a winning record over thirty-plus years, while also taking care of the Fairbanks little league fields and equipment. Ken was always willing to take on management of the Fairbanks All Stars at season’s end, winning five state titles and continuing his teams’ winning ways at the district and regional levels.
Ken will be remembered by Fairbanks’ youth baseball community as truly unique. Year after year, he took summers off, most of the time without pay, to teach, coach and make sure kids could play baseball. Thousands of hours and a good bit of his own money were unselfishly contributed to this effort. The results were kids who learned respect for themselves, their teammates, their opponents and their elders. Men and women who’ve grown to be productive contributors to their communities and who would be the first to tell you about the valuable lessons learned from Coach Ken.
Ken was preceded in death by his father, Lloyd Rankin, sister Katherine Sims and brother-in-law Harry Sims.
Ken is survived by his mother, Maude Rankin of Knoxville, three brothers: Dale Rankin of Fairbanks, Ralph Rankin of Knoxville, and William (Chick) and wife Linda Rankin of Knoxville. Nieces and nephews include Deborah Carruthers and Family of Des Moines, Iowa: Dan and Pamela Pearson and Family of Knoxville; Kurt and Lisa Ciesielski of Ankeny, Iowa; Rick and Joni Rankin and family of Knoxville; Bill Rankin of California and Martha Langebartels of Florissant, Missouri.” 2002 Memorial Flyer
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