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Alumni Profiles

Q&A with Stan Pursely

Stan Pursley and other Western alums stand in the Mountaineer Bowl at a football game.

Editor’s Note: We had a wonderful and wide-ranging conversation with Stan. The transcribed interview here has been edited for length.  

After growing up in Texas and starting his college football career on a scholarship to Texas Western College (now University of Texas at El Paso), a series of unforeseen events and a chance meeting with the head coach at what was then Western State College brought Stan Pursley to Gunnison to finish his career. Stan first set foot on the Western campus in the spring of ’59, and neither would ever be the same.  

“It was quite a change,” he said of his move to Gunnison. “But it was the best thing that happened to me. It’s where I met my wife … She turned my life around and was the rock that kept me going.” 

MEGAN WEST: Other than your wife, who influenced you most during your time at Western?  

STAN PURSLEY: Dr. Ed Randall, who was head of the Education Department. He took me under his wing. I got through with his guidance and support, even when I was working on my master’s. He was always right there encouraging me. Later, I coached his son, John Randall, in Little League.  

MW: Can you tell us a little about your experience starting the Mountaineer Football Alumni Association?  

SP: Yes, I was one of the original members. I met with John (Randall) and Skip Prichard, who was taking on the leadership. When we heard talk of dropping football at Western, it got back to a lot of alums, and we formed the group. With the MFAA, we have raised $50,000 a year for scholarships, and our goal this year is to raise $75,000. 

Stan Pursley (’62) holds the hammer that’s given to a special teams player for making a significant play in the previous week’s game. 

MW: What role did football play in your life after you left college? 

SP: [Football] is usually what moved me around. I taught in Leadville for eight years and started the football program there. They hadn’t had a program since 1929, and I was the coach there from 1962 – 1970. When Gateway High School was opened in 1973, I was the first head football coach there, and during that time, I got my administrative certificate from the University of Northern Colorado. I was assistant principal in ’78 at Hinkley High School and became principal in ’81. I retired in ’93 with the longest tenure of any Hinkley principal. 

MW: What is your fondest Western memory? 

SP: Meeting my wife, Patricia. Western was a small campus, and contact with instructors was special; they cared. My football experience, the people I met, and the guys I played with. And I also met many great people outside the University.  

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MW: What advice do you have for students who want to make the most of their experience at Western? 

SP: Take advantage of the small classes and professors. Get involved in the community, as well as the school. Students have many job opportunities in Gunnison, so get to know people in town because they do a lot for the college. 

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