Updated: Feb 17
Flying Officer William Kenneth Rock, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF),
William Kenneth Rock (Ken) was born at Windsor, Ontario, on June 10, 1923. His maternal Grandfather Robert Newsome was born into enslavement and his father McKeon Rock worked at the Ford Canada Auto Plant and the Windsor Utilities Commission. His mother Louise Newsome was an accomplished organist who played at the B.M.E.Church and started the first music therapy program after seeing the positive effects it had on her youngest son. He was married to Effie Kersey, also from Windsor and they had two children, Kenneth and Karen. Ken grew up in an upwardly mobile neighborhood and hung out with the smart set. His friends included other distinguished Windsorites such as David Croll, the former Mayor of Windsor and Federal Senator and sports star Fred Thomas. As a student at Patterson Collegiate, Ken was an outstanding athlete, and a member of the Student Council. He was considered one of the school’s best football players, and in August 1940, he also won the 120-yard low hurdles at the Ontario Athletic Commission Camp at Orillia.
It was during the Second World War that, in January 1943, after graduating High School, Ken decided to enlist with the RCAF. While Ken was accepted as a pilot, he was also recognized for his athletic abilities. At the No. 1 Training Command’s Second Annual Track and Field Meet (September 1943), Ken won the 120-yard hurdles, beating out Flying Officer Jim Worrall, a member of Canada’s Olympic team at Berlin, Germany in 1936.
Ken learned to fly at the No. 9 Elementary Flight Training School at St. Catherine’s, Ontario, and the No. 8 Service Flying Training School at Weyburn, Saskatchewan and earned his wings in June 1944. Because of his skills and ranking among the top of the class, Ken was commissioned as an officer. Because the RCAF was only sending a limited number of personal to Europe at that stage in the War, Ken was sent to Manitoba to fly for the No. 3 Wireless School at Winnipeg and to serve as an instructor at the No. 18 Service Flying Training School SFTS in Gimli. While playing football with the N. 3 Wireless School’s “Blue Bombers,” Ken broke his leg. With the war coming to an end, Ken was released from service on 30 April 1945.
Following the War, Ken Rock was able to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a doctor. With the financial support provided from the Veterans’ Grant Program, Ken was able to attend the University of Toronto. He also kept up his interest in sports, and in 1945, he won the Dominion Hurdles Championship at Hamilton, Ontario. After graduating from Medical School and completing his medical internship at Windsor, Ontario’s Hotel Dieu Hospital, Dr. Rock established his private practice in 1952: he maintained into the 1980s.
Dr. Rock also dedicated himself to community service. He provided medical care to offenders residing at “St. Leonard’s House;” was on the Board of Directors of “The Inn of Windsor,” a home for teenage girls; worked with the “House of Sophrosyne,” a residence for women recovering from addictions; and was known for taking groups of children to his cottage near North Bay to fish and swim. If that wasn’t enough service to community, Dr. Rock was on the Windsor Media Council, served as the Director of Clinical Services at the Metro Windsor and Essex County Health Unit, and as the first Black County Coroner in the County of Essex,Ontario.
Dr. William Kenneth Rock, MD, RCAF Veteran, Award Winning Athlete and community volunteer passed away on March 31, 1985.