Ken Fathers was a remarkable sports reporter who served the Windsor-Essex community for nearly half a century. In several roles at the Windsor Star, Fathers was instrumental in establishing and promoting many local sporting traditions.
Fathers was born in Windsor on June 9, 1926.
At Kennedy Collegiate Institute, Fathers began to cover sports as a Grade 12 student in 1943. He submitted information on the Clippers’ football, basketball, and hockey games to the Windsor Star Sports Department, which would often run his high-quality reporting verbatim.
Near the end of his Grade 13 year, Fathers received a call from Doug Vaughan, Sports Editor at the Star. Vaughan informed him that Joe Burns, the paper’s Assistant Sports Editor, was leaving his position. What’s more, Burns had recommended Fathers as his replacement.
Fathers was offered the job in early June, 1945. Because he was in the midst of writing his Grade 13 Developmental Exams, he had to wait until July 4 to officially start work. The starting salary was 20 dollars per week, but Vaughan offered Fathers a raise in pay to 25 dollars as soon as he learned how to use a typewriter. Within a month, Fathers had his raise.
Fathers’ first official assignment was an exhibition football game between Assumption High School and Toronto’s St. Michael’s College at Windsor Stadium in September 1945. Led by George Arnott, Assumption won 21-0 and became the first team to defeat St. Mike’s in two years.
All in all, Fathers worked for the Star from 1945 to ’91. He covered local sports – particularly high school and college competition – plus the Detroit Tigers and Lions as a reporter, columnist, and editor. Fathers covered Detroit Tigers World Series wins in 1968 and ’84. He also covered the only Super Bowl held in Detroit during his lifetime: the 1982 contest between San Francisco and Cincinnati. In 1963, Fathers reported on the first Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Association Basketball Championships, which were held at the University of Windsor. The occasion was the first time the regional basketball champions from the Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario, and Western Canada met at one site to determine the national champion.
Fathers belonged to the Windsor Baseball Scorekeepers Association, which scored area baseball and softball games, from 1942 to ’45. He was responsible for submitting scored games and individual game stats to the Star.
Memorably, Fathers co-founded the University of Windsor’s High School Invitational Basketball Tournament, which at the time of his induction remained one of the longest running tournaments of its kind in the country.
Fathers sat on many committees in the local sporting community. He belonged to the Protest Committee for the Essex County Senior Baseball League from 1945 to ’75. In 1949, he chaired the inaugural meeting of the Founding Committee for the Royal Arcanum Trophy, which is still presented annually to Windsor’s Male and Female High School Athletes of the Year. Between 1958 and ’91, Fathers was a committee member for all locally held OUAA and OQAA tournaments. In 1963, he was a founding committee member of the first CIAU Basketball Championships, which were held in Windsor. Fathers was a member of the Windsor/Essex County Sports Hall of Fame’s founding committee in 1979.
Fathers was also an important voice in the local bowling community. He wrote a weekly column on the Windsor-area scene from 1948 to ’85 and produced the Annual Bowling Tabloid – a summary of local highlights – from ’70 to ’85. In 1953, he assisted Bill Miles in establishing the Molson Masters 10-Pin Bowling Tournament, which was one of Canada’s premier events.
Fathers received many honours for his work. In 1990, he received the Fred Sgambati Memorial Award for his significant contribution to the growth and development of Canadian university sport. One year later, he received the OUAA Media Award for the promotion of and contribution to university sports in Ontario. Also in 1991, WSSAA honoured Fathers with its Recognition Award for his many years of service as the Windsor Star’s High School Reporter. In particular, the association thanked Fathers for his work coordinating and overseeing the selection of various All-City teams.
Fathers was accepted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield Massachusetts in 1991 in recognition of his contributions to basketball. Today, a trophy in his honour is presented annually to the Most Valuable Player in WSSAA Football.
Ken Fathers retired from the Windsor Star on June 28, 1991. He passed away on July 24, 2002.