To paraphrase the man himself: When the call is sounded for community service, Orediggers and Goldenites will always be the first in line.
And Marv Kay always was.
He'd consistently ask, “How can I help?” He’d be with a project from beginning to end — the first one there and the last one to leave. His door was always open to anyone in need, even if he didn’t know them.
Now, his family and friends are following his example and carrying on his legacy of kindness and commitment.
On May 15, more than 500 Colorado School of Mines alumni and Golden community members gathered at Mines’ Marv Kay Stadium to publicly honor their friend.
Kay died April 19 at the age of 84. He was preceded in death by his wife, Diane, who died March 15. The two were married for 55 years.
As his friends said, Kay was “many things to many people.” He was Golden’s mayor and longtime community leader. He was Mines’ beloved football coach and athletic director. He was a friend, a mentor and No. 1 supporter.
As Mines President Paul Johnson described, Kay was “the North Star of the Orediggers.”
Dave Scriven, a Mines alumnus who played football for Kay, said his friend and former coach was a visionary who helped shape both Mines and Golden into what they are today.
Scriven recalled asking Kay a few years ago if he ever dreamed what the Mines campus and athletic facilities would look like now. Kay said he hadn’t, but Scriven was skeptical.
“You don’t build something like this,” he said, looking around the stadium and the Mines campus, “unless you see it first.”
Kay was a crucial member of the Golden Civic Foundation and the Colorado School of Mines Foundation, serving on both until he died. Brian Winkelbauer of the Mines Foundation said Kay loved being part of the team, and particularly shined during the all-staff meetings when he’d share pieces of wisdom with his colleagues.
GCF’s Heather Schneider said Kay’s philosophy was to “build the community from the inside out, not the outside in.” Yes, he wanted to get the physical projects done, but the real work was getting people involved and emphasizing a service-first mentality among Goldenites.
“Volunteerism is the price you pay for the space you occupy,” she said, quoting Kay.
For Golden’s Chandra Polk and Kendra Sund, Kay was “Dad.”
The sisters grew up going to work with him on the Mines campus, running around the empty gyms and traveling to the football team's away games. Through him, the players became part of their family, and they were always welcomed at the Kay home whenever they couldn’t travel for the holidays.
They recalled going on road trips as adults when Kay would give them directions to stop by a tunnel, bridge or road one of his former players had built.
“Dad loved you all,” the sisters told the football alumni and other attendees.
During the ceremony, Mines officials announced how the football team will retire No. 74 — Kay’s jersey number when he played for the Orediggers in the ‘60s. Redshirt freshman Zack Morris currently wears the number, and the team will permanently retire it once he graduates.
As his daughters and friends pointed out, Kay wouldn’t want people making a big fuss about him at an event like this. But, no doubt, he would’ve appreciated seeing so many of his friends in one place and hearing them reminisce about their past adventures together and make plans for new ones.
With the torch now passed to the next generation, Kay’s friends and family said it’s up to Orediggers and Goldenites to keep that flame of service burning bright.
After all, as Kay himself said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”