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Dick Westbay, legendary Colorado Springs football coach, passes away at 83

April 8, 2014 Updated: April 8, 2014 at 9:40 pm
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photo - Dick Westbay (The Gazette file)
Dick Westbay (The Gazette file) 

Dick Westbay, who coached Wasson to its only state football title and also won a championship as a player for Colorado Springs High School, died Sunday after a brief illness. He was 83.

Westbay was admitted to Memorial Hospital on March 31 to treat pneumonia, according to Marjorie, his wife of 54 years. The couple had cut short a trip to Hawaii after Dick had been treated there twice in emergency rooms.

On Sunday, Marjorie received news that a blood clot in her husband’s leg had broken off and traveled to his lungs, and heart failure was imminent.

“He died very peacefully,” Marjorie said. “His family was all there.”

Westbay had quite an extended family after coaching and teaching at Wasson from its opening in 1959 and spanning nearly four decades.

In October, Westbay was inducted into the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame, the last of a bevy of awards and recognition that he earned, including National High School Athletic Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 1972. He also was enshrined into the Colorado High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1993.

“I’ve had a lot of highlights and accolades,” Westbay said an interview prior to making his acceptance speech that October night at the World Arena. “I was just lucky enough to be there during those times and very fortunate to win a title and coach one, too.”

Born May 24, 1930, in Colorado Springs, Westbay attended Colorado Springs High School — later renamed Palmer — where the three-sport athlete played on the Terrors’ state-championship football team in 1948.

He then graduated from the University of Denver and took a coaching job in Bakersfield, Calif., staying there three years before returning to Colorado Springs in 1957 to teach at North Junior High. Two years later, he moved to newly built Wasson.

Westbay served as the Thunderbirds’ track and basketball coach until 1966, when he succeeded the iconic Gib Funk as football coach.

He coached football at Wasson for 13 seasons, highlighted in 1971, when the T-Birds won the 3A state title.

“He wasn’t a big screamer and yeller and all that stuff,” said Mike Hartinger, a 1973 Wasson graduate. “But he sure got the point across to us. I just remember what a great man he was.”

In addition to Marjorie, Westbay is survived by daughters Anne and Kirsten.

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