Kent State professor writes book about Olympic medalist father

Joanne Kilgour Dowdy, Kent State professor of adolescent/adult literacy, recently wrote and published a book about her father, a 1952 Oympic bronze medal winner.

Nicholas Sewell

Joanne Kilgour-Dowdy, professor of adolescent and adult literacy, woke up Dec. 26, 2012, with a story in her heart.

“The story just came through me,” Kilgour-Dowdy said. “This story started coming out of me.”

Kilgour-Dowdy published a book this month about her father’s journey to win a bronze medal win in weightlifting in the 1952 Olympics for Trinidad and Tobago. Kilgour-Dowdy said it did not take her very long to write the book as she felt her father, Lennox Kilgour, worked “through” her to write the story.

“It turns out this year is the 10th anniversary of Kilgour’s death, so I think it’s appropriate that there be some sort of commemoration,” she said.

The book, “Olympic Hero: Lennox Kilgour’s Story,” covers the various challenges and hardships Kilgour faced in his life, eventually culminating with winning the bronze medal in the 1952 Summer Olympics, which were held in Helsinki, Finland. It is targeted towardsyoung children, but Kilgour-Dowdy said adults have been very receptive to it as well.  

She said she wanted to write the book to remind people just how influential her father was to his native country, Trinidad and Tobago.

“I think this is a nice way of reminding everyone that he was a pioneer for his country and he served well,” she said.  “It turns out that this story is something that really captures people’s interest, and so far we’ve received really good reception for the product.”

Dillon Sedar, a  Kent State alumnus who graduated in May 2013, illustrated the book for Kilgour-Dowdy.  

Juli Dorff, an art education professor at Kent State, recommended Sedar to Kilgour-Dowdy for the illustration job. Sedar then accepted his first full-illustration job in May 2013.

“I drew 25 pictures for the book, including the main cover and inside covers, both front and back,” Sedar said.  

“It took me a total of three months to complete all of the illustrations,” he said.  “Individual illustrations would take anywhere from two to eight hours to complete.”

Sedar also shared some of his thoughts on Kilgour-Dowdy.

“She is very communicative, smart, persistent and rarely settles for anything other than what she wants,” Sedar said. “I am very proud of our collaborative accomplishment and look forward to working more with Joanne in the future.”

For more information about Kilgour-Dowdy and her work, visit her website at

Contact Nick Sewell at [email protected].