(Whayne Supply Company Christmas dinner with Kentucky shirts worn in Kevin Daniels' Memory: From left to Right: Ernie Steele, Whitney Griffith, Raymond McKinney, Robert Hay, Tyler Layne, Bill Walker, Dave Mayhew, Gary Fraley, Mike Pennington, Jason Poplin, Rodney Conley, Larry Sheppard)
On November 26th of this year, Big Blue Nation lost one of its most loyal members in, Kevin Daniels.
Since I started this site, I've come to love writing. In fact, I use it as a way to clear my mind of everything that has happened throughout the day. I never thought the day would come where I would hate writing about anything, but I was wrong. This is the hardest thing I have ever tried to write, in-fact, I've put this off for over a month now. I'm not going to guarantee that this will be one of my best posts, but I'll give it a helluva shot...
Kevin Daniels hired into Whayne Supply Company in Ashland, Kentucky about 8 years ago and that was the first time I had the pleasure of meeting a bigger Wildcat fan than myself. Kevin was a big man standing around 6'4", but he was anything but intimidating. This guy didn't meet a stranger, it seemed like he knew everyone and everyone that knew him, liked/loved him. I've never known of a person who didn't have an enemy, but Kevin really didn't. He always had a smile on his face no matter what the situation was. He just had a way of making everyone around him laugh even when there was nothing to laugh about.
I said that he was a bigger Cat fan than me and that is true. He was the type of fan that when the NCAA Tournament brackets came out, he'd put Kentucky down as the National Champion and work backwards from there, even when there wasn't a snowball's chance of Kentucky making it passed the first weekend of the tourney. Every single game during the tournament, my cell phone would ring around halftime and I wouldn't even have to look at the caller I.D. because I knew exactly who was on the other end to tell me how wrong my prediction was that I had given him earlier that day.
He never doubted Kentucky, not even during the Gillispie years. Hell, even when Kentucky went to the NIT under Billy, Kevin still wrote them in as National Champions, that's just how big of a fan he was. His family was well aware of Kevin's love for his Wildcats that's why they asked for everyone to wear blue-jeans and Kentucky shirts to the funeral, that's what Kevin would've told us to wear anyway. It was really impressive to see how many people showed up in UK gear. The best part (if there is one in a situation like this) was that some of Kevin's friends were Louisville fans and they were decked out in nothing but Kentucky blue. I remarked to someone upon seeing all the blue that Kevin was laughing at the fact that he got his Louisville friends into Kentucky shirts, finally.
Not only was Kevin a huge UK fan, but he was also a big family man as well. Nothing meant more to Big Kev than his family. He was a great husband, father, son and bother and he took pride in that fact. In just about every single conversation I ever had with him, his family was brought up in some way. To know Kevin was to love him, he just had that affect on everyone he came in contact with.
As I said at the beginning of this post, Kevin passed away suddenly on November, 26 while at work. It was single handily one of the saddest days I've been through in quite sometime. I've never dreaded going to work, now, it's a different story. You never know exactly what kind of effect someone has on a place until you go back and they aren't there. It's different and something that will take a long time to get used to, if I ever do.
Big Kev was a fan and a reader of this site and a critic at times, especially when I would talk negatively about the Cats. As proud as I am to have him as a fan of this site, I'm more proud of the fact that I was able to call him a friend.
This post is for you, Kev. R.I.P., Kevin Daniels. You may be gone, but you will forever be remembered and missed.