Ken Preskenis's heart was in two places. Three years after his death, both are coming together to honor him.
Preskenis, a math professor at Framingham State College for 25 years, grew up in South Boston and never left. He balanced teaching with his other love -- baseball -- and served as a Southie Little League coach for 43 years. His death at 62 of a heart attack left a void in both communities, but it has taken a little longer than expected to create a joint effort to honor his memory.
''When they had the wake, the crowds were enormous," said Walter Czarnec, chairman of the Framingham State math program and a colleague of Preskenis's for more than two decades. Czarnec said a scholarship was immediately set up at Framingham State in Preskenis's name, but fund-raising efforts stalled.
Six months ago, Preskenis's sister, Janet Pfeiffer of Columbus, Ohio, contacted one of Preskenis's former Little Leaguers. Jay Rooney, 32, of Milton, had played on Preskenis's team in the mid-1980s, and Preskenis came to be a math tutor and mentor to Rooney and his twin brother. Rooney said he would be happy to spearhead a Southie effort to collaborate with Preskenis's Framingham State colleagues and organize a fund-raiser.
''Ken was the type of guy that didn't really grandstand or ask a lot in return . . . he was extremely humble," Rooney said. ''I know they tried to do it from Framingham State, but it would be much more successful based in Southie . . . Ken touched a lot of people out here."
Rooney and an informal committee of Framingham State faculty and South Boston residents are planning a spring benefit. The scholarship will benefit students from Southie who wish to attend Framingham State.
Preskenis ''was a teacher in the broadest sense of the word," Czarnec said. ''And this is what Kenny would have dreamed of."
For more information about the Dr. Ken Preskenis Scholarship Fund, contact Rooney at firstname.lastname@example.org or Framingham State College.