Longtime B.C. Lions equipment man Ken ‘Kato’ Kasuya has passed away.
“We are devasted as an organization today. From the day he rode his bike to Empire Stadium as a teenager more than 40 years ago to volunteer as a water boy, Kato endeared himself to generations of Lions players and staff members. He was a treasured part of our family, loved dearly by anyone who came to know him,” Lions’ president Rick LeLacheur said in a statement.
“Tasked with the incredible responsibility to ensure the health of our players, he did so with passion, joy and tireless effort. He will forever be in the hearts of the legions of players and coaches who have passed through our locker room doors along with thousands in the football community across Canada.”
Kato began as a ball boy with the Lions at the age of 13. He was hired as the team’s assistant equipment manager in 1984. A decade later, Kato was named equipment manager, the same year the Lions won the Grey Cup in 1994 and held the position ever since.
“The entire Canadian Football League family is deeply saddened today to learn of the passing of Ken Kasuya. Better known to four decades’ worth of CFL players as ‘Kato’, he did his job as the BC Lions equipment manager with professionalism, passion and a work ethic that was tireless and selfless. And yet, over the years, his personality and presence became just as important to his team and our league as the crucial role he played,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement.
“He is one of those rare individuals who came to the CFL as a boy and dedicated his entire working life to our athletes and our game. In the process, Mr. Kasuya became as synonymous with the Lions as any star player or legendary coach. He will be deeply missed. Our sympathies are with his family, his friends and his many teammates, past and present.”
Reaction to the news of Kasuya’s passing poured in from around the league:
Condolences to all who were a part of Kato’s family. A true @BCLions legend who befriended, helped & inspired all of us to care more. Thank you for the legacy of serving others that you leave us. Thank you for all that you did for me. You will be missed. Rest peaceful my friend! pic.twitter.com/cijOZ4q0a4
— Wally Buono (@CoachBrillo) April 24, 2019
Just hearing the awful news this morning. The past 2 months has been great on many levels but reconnecting with Kato was one of the tops. I don’t know what to say other than what we all already know which is that he will be greatly missed.
— Mike Reilly (@Rikester13) April 24, 2019
Really tough news this morning. Kato was special; funny, humble, caring. He was like a locker room counselor – the couch in his office has heard every story of triumph and heartbreak. He was a cherished friend. We loved you, Kato. Rest In peace. https://t.co/12BwIsPw6b
— Travis Lulay (@TravisLulay) April 24, 2019
Will miss you Kato. So many great memories I will remember forever. ???? https://t.co/ZL355UWhFN
— Adam Bighill (@Bighill44) April 24, 2019
KAAAAATTTTTOOOO MY DAWG!!!!???? I am so heartbroken ????????????????????????one of the most humbling human beings I ever met. Would give you the shirt off his back if you asked him! He was the backbone of the @BCLions organization. We are forever indebted to you Kato! RIH my friend! ???????????? https://t.co/XTSIQyKGLo
— Jovan Olafioye (@jolafioye63) April 24, 2019
One of a kind and very special human. Nobody has spent more time at that facility than Kato. Always good with the one liners and will very much miss seeing him at BC Place this year. https://t.co/Z7q9FeX5At
— Richie Leone (@RichieLeone15) April 24, 2019
This hurts. Kato was one of the best people I met during my years in the CFL. Always found an excuse to go hang out in his office and joke around with him when I was with the @BCLions. #RIPKato you will be missed. https://t.co/LYcW5AyN3R
— Andrew Jones (@andrewj9257) April 24, 2019
Saddened to learn of the passing of long-time @BCLions equipment manager Ken (Kato) Kasuya. A tireless, vital worker since he was hired as a 13-year-old ball boy in the ‘70s, his loss will be felt deeply by current and former Lions players/coaches and B.C.’s football community. pic.twitter.com/PnLYfQp63M
— Mike Beamish (@sixbeamers) April 24, 2019
A @BCLions mainstay & icon has passed away. Such devastating news for long time fans, current and former players & the #BCLions organization. Things won't be the same without Ken "Kato" Kasuya. Rest in peace Kato. #TheBesthttps://t.co/1GkeDOQhiX (Via https://t.co/WYV8DiKZ41)
— BC Lions Den (@BCLionsDen) April 24, 2019
Crushing news. Kato is a fixture in the league, a true pillar. Will be dearly missed by so many. https://t.co/vSs6SreV0X
— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) April 24, 2019
Such sad news one of the great people that make the CFL special. The equipment managers in this league are a close family of guys and today we feel like we’ve lost a brother Rest In Peace Kato https://t.co/KA3mwLdouw
— Dwayne Mandrusiak (@DRockEsks) April 24, 2019
So sorry to hear about the passing of equimpent manager Kato Kasuya. He was a fixture in the @BCLions locker room for 40 years. A wonderful person and it's a sad day in the @CFL. He helped hundreds of players over the years and will be remembered fondly.
— James Cybulski (@JamesCybulski) April 24, 2019
— Perry Solkowski (@psolkowski) April 24, 2019