Russell "Sox" Walseth Passes On

One of the great all-time Buffaloes succumbed to cancer today. Russell "Sox" Walseth passed away at his home in Boulder after a two-year battle with the disease. He was 77.

Walseth wore the black and gold as a player, coach and administrator for 38 years. He starred as a basketball and baseball player in the 1940s, and is the winningest men's basketball coach in CU history, helming the program from 1956-1976. His teams won three Big Eight titles and he was named conference coach of the year five times.

Each of his Big Eight title teams went to the NCAA Tournament. The cotton-haired Walseth remained a constant presence at CU men's and women's basketball games, even as recently as this season.

"I will always cherish and remember our game day lunches, and what he meant to me as a person and his support through the years," CU head men's basketball coach Ricardo Patton said. " It was a pleasure and an honor to talk basketball with him. He may have been out of coaching for 20 years, but he knew the game as well as anyone. We have truly lost a great man."

Walseth also coached the women's team from 1980-83, and led the Buffs to an incredible 43-0 record at home during that span. Years later, 1n 1998, that same home floor at the Coors Event Center was named in his honor.

Current CU women's coach Ceal Barry leaned on Walseth's understanding of the triangle offense in recent years.

"I think it was a combination of his sense of humor and his personality and his compassion for people that made him so special," Barry said. "We spent hours and hours and hours talking and laughing and comparing notes. … I'm proud that we're running his offense. Everyday that we run it and every game that we run it and every win that we get, it's part of his legacy that's living on."

Former Walseth player Cliff Meeley said, "When you played for Sox you were part of his family. He'll always be with us. The things he taught us in sports, the things he taught us in life. He will always be a part of who I am, who we are."

Lisa Van Goor also played under Walseth, and could often be seen sitting with him at CU women's basketball games in recent years.

"It's hard to describe what that man meant… you don't know until you lose him how much of an impact he's had on my life," she said. "He's been a constant in my life for the last 23 years. We always knew his door was always open to all of us. The percentage of his players that stayed in touch with him is a testament to what he was to everybody."

He was preceded in death by his first wife of more than 40 years, the former Eleanor "Ellie" Hahn, and is survived by his current wife, Joan, sons Joe and Nick, daughter Cynthia and four grandchildren.

Services will be held this Saturday, January 31, at 1:30 p.m. at Boulder's Sacred Heart of Jesus Church. All former players, men and women, will be honorary pallbearers and will be seated in a special section. In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made to the University ofColorado Foundation, in care of the Russell "Sox" Walseth Scholarship Fund, c/o 369 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0369.


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