A one-of-a-kind Oredigger
As Mr. Engineer, head football coach, mayor of Golden and even the inspiration for a university mascot, it’s clear that Marv Kay ’63 shines bright at Mines.
Proclaimed by many as “the greatest Oredigger of all time,” Kay’s generosity, history of service and school spirit have only grown since the moment he was born and lived right across the street from the president’s house. This year, his legacy was commemorated with something special—a proclamation of a day that bears his name.
The state of Colorado, the city of Golden and Mines officially proclaimed April 11, 2019, as Marv Kay Day to coincide with Kay’s induction into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. Mines students, alumni, faculty and staff gathered to celebrate, and Maple Plaza—the stretch of Maple Street from 17th Street to just past 15th Street—was renamed Marv Kay Way.
“I’m overwhelmed at all of this,” Kay said. “Mines has given so much to me. Just being here at Mines is a tremendous privilege. I don’t care if you’re a student, an athlete, a professor—whatever you are, it’s a privilege. And we should always honor that and be very proud of that, as I am.”
And Marv Kay Way is not the only part of campus that bears his name. The pathway points pedestrians in the direction of what is perhaps the most enduring symbol of Kay’s influence: the Mines football stadium, named in his honor and opened in 2015.
Already a member of the Mines and RMAC Athletic halls of fame, Kay has certainly put his stamp on Mines athletics. As a student-athlete, he lettered in both wrestling and football and was an All-American lineman. Later, Kay coached the swimming and football teams and became the head football coach in 1969. Over the next 26 years, Kay led the football team to win a then-record 84 games and was named RMAC Coach of the Year in 1975 and 1979. During his tenure, Kay coached 13 All-Americans and 50 All-Conference players. After his coaching days, he was the Mines athletic director for nine years. Kay has remained a dedicated fan of the Orediggers, cheering on all Mines sports teams to victory.
But Kay’s leadership extends far beyond Mines athletics. As a student, he was president of his junior class and a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and was named Mr. Engineer during E-Days in 1963. After graduating with a professional degree in engineering that same year, Kay served in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before returning to Golden to dedicate his career to Mines and the local community. He served as the mayor of Golden from 1988 to 1996, a member of the Golden City Council from 1986 to 1998 and president of the Golden Chamber of Commerce in 1983.
After a 40-year career as a coach, administrator, professor and fundraiser, Kay’s dedication to Mines is stronger than ever, and he continues to play a large role in maintaining strong relationships with alumni to advance the school’s top priorities.
“There’s a special place in my heart for the city and campus, and there always will be,” Kay said. “I look back at the last verse—the alumni verse—of the school song, and it goes something like this: ‘Wherever in this pay dirt world Orediggers chose to roam, that M up on that mountain will always stand for home.’”
I didn’t appreciate Coach Kay while I played for him as much as I do now. He gave me a scholarship and let me keep it all four years even though I wasn’t a starter. I give him credit for my staying at and graduating from Mines, which is one of the best things to happen in my life. My favorite memory is that he remembered my name after 25 years of no contact.
From the first day I met Marv, he demonstrated those intangible qualities that make a person memorable. He had empathy for others, interest in you as an individual, leadership and enthusiasm. I looked up to him then, and I still have the utmost respect for his character. Most of all, I value his heart and how he approaches life with determination to do the right thing.
Marv befriended my dad, Tony Corbetta ’48, and his dear Mines pals Al Ireson ’48 and Bob Pearson ’59. Marv helped build their alumni connection, which turned into meaningful lifelong friendships. Marv made a difference in the quality of people’s lives. He extended his Mines welcoming ways to family members of alumni and always made my sister, Dianne, and me feel welcome and part of the Mines community. Marv’s smile is the best.
When Marv eventually became athletic director and I president, our relationship grew even closer. This was especially true during the reorganization of varsity athletics that took place right after I became president. Since my retirement in 2006, I have remained close to Marv, particularly through our mutual involvement with the Golden Civic Foundation.
Marv’s greatest strength is his ability to create meaningful relationships with every person he meets—everyone is important in Marv’s eyes. Through these relationships, Marv has helped people find the area at Mines that they are passionate about, leading to financial support that provides scholarships, lab space, athletics facilities and much more. Marv has taught so many of us about the power of character and kindness.
The Mines Alumni Office is collecting memories and stories of Kay for a special keepsake in his honor. Visit minesalumni.com/marvkay to learn more.