Colorado golf coach Mark Simpson dies at 55

LOUISVILLE, Colo. -- Colorado golf coach Mark Simpson,
college coach to Steve Irwin, Jonathan Kaye and 1996 U.S. Open
champion Steve Jones, died Monday after a battle with lung cancer.

Simpson, 55, died at a hospice of complications from a blood
clot in his lungs, Colorado sports information director Dave Plati

Simpson was declared cancer-free in April, but the cancer
returned in September and he underwent surgery for blood clots Nov.

Though treatments kept him from traveling with the golf team
this fall, his 29th season, Simpson still oversaw the team's
day-to-day affairs.

"I never met someone who gained as much respect in my
estimation that coach Simpson has," senior golf captain Edward
McGlasson said.

"Every moment with him was priceless, and everyone who was ever
touched by him should feel blessed," McGlasson said.

Simpson became head golf coach in January 1977, replacing Les
Fowler, who also coached the Buffaloes for 29 years.

Jones was one of his first recruits. Jones said he was learning
how to become a college golfer as Simpson was learning to be a
better coach.

"He became a good coach, I became a good golfer, and we became
good friends. And we have been friends since 1977," Jones said.
"A lot of people can't say that about their head coaches, but I am
proud to say that about Mark."

Simpson himself played for CU and went on to become an assistant
golf coach and facilities manager. He later earned a degree from CU
in commercial recreation in 1983.

"How can I ask my players to graduate if I haven't done so,"
he said in 1981.

Of the 129 golfers he brought into Colorado's program, 119
earned degrees from CU.

Simpson was born June 25, 1950, in Durango. He played on his
high school golf, baseball, football and tennis teams.

He was inducted into the Golf Coaches Association of America
Hall of Fame in January.

Survivors include his wife, Valorie of Boulder; stepdaughters,
Lindsey of Boulder and Michelle Isham of Phoenix; a grandson,
Jaden; and his mother, Martha Carman Simpson of Durango.

A memorial service was scheduled Saturday on campus in Boulder.