TAYLOR: Keightley touched many

It's been more than two weeks since Bill "Mr. Wildcat" Keightley passed away, but the influence he had will live on in the minds of many Kentuckians forever. During his tenure as equipment manager at the school, a career that spanned 48 seasons, Keightley met and made friends with thousands of Kentucky followers and those associated with the program.

Gordon Parido, principal at George Rogers Clark High School in Winchester, was a graduate assistant at Kentucky and worked numerous posts in the basketball office from 1978-82.

Parido spent a lot of time with Keightley and became associated with the late icon during summer camp and other activities on campus.

"Bill was an everyday occurrence in my life back in college," Parido said lastweek. "He wasn't just an impact on the program, but with so many people around it. I consider it more of a personal loss myself. What can you say about Bill Keightley? He was just solid as anybody you would ever meet. Honestly we throw those words around a lot. But, when you meet someone who really is that, it's really means a lot to you, and it really is difficult."

In addition to making a friend for life, Parido said Keightley's numerous words have served as an influence throughout his personal and professional life.

"There are different stages in my life that I will remember something that he said, and some kind of advice that he gave me," he said. Parido added that Keightley served as a role model just through his work ethic.

"I learned a lot just by watching and observing," he said. "How does a guy that's an equipment manager, whose job description is to wash and dry clothes, turn himself into the icon that he became? That, in itself, says something about his personality.

"You hire a coach at Kentucky and immediately you have that status. You sign a letter of intent as a player and you have that status. Bill Keightley didn't have that. Being equipment manager didn't give him that status, it's what Bill did and how he treated people that gave him that status."

Parido said the memorial service sparked memories.

"It was just so neat to listen to some of the speeches at the memorial (service)," he said.

"The way they talked about Bill Keightley, he had treated me the same way, too."

Parido spent some time with Keightley at the Merrick Inn in "late December" and said Keightley hadn't changed despite his obvious stature.

"That was the time when a lot of people were questioning coach (Billy) Gillispie about what he should be doing," he said. "We weren't really talking about basketball, but there was someone at the table that mentioned something about it, but Bill spoke up and said, 'I tell you what. Billy Gillispie is a good friend of mine.' The discussion just ended."

AllWildcats Top Stories