William “Bill” Spahn
Published 12:56 pm Thursday, April 7, 2022
WINDSOR – Bill Spahn passed away suddenly on March 26, 2022 in Thornton, Colorado while participating in master’s swimming meet. Husband, father, grandfather, friend, teacher, coach, mentor, and teller of dorky jokes, Bill influenced many lives during his 47 years as a swimming coach.
William Henry Spahn (Bill) was born June 8, 1942 to Harry and Elsa (Peterson) Spahn in Austin, Minnesota. Austin is the home of Hormel and Spam and like most people from there, he loved Spam. He graduated from Austin High School in 1960 where he was class president for three years and lettered in swimming, football and track for four years. He was so honored when he was inducted into the Austin High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016. Bill attended Texas Tech University on a swimming scholarship and was two-time captain of the Red Raider’s swim team. He graduated from Texas Tech in 1964 with a degree in Physical Education.
After graduation, Bill moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico for a teaching job and during his first year there started the Heights YMCA Swim Club. During his eight years in Albuquerque, the HYAC were state champions for seven years. In 1972 Bill decided to coach swimming full time and moved to Wichita, Kansas to coach the Wichita Swim Club. During his six years in Wichita, the team was state champions, Region 8 championships, and had five junior national champion swimmers.
In 1977 in order to spend more time with his family, he moved to collegiate coaching and became the head men’s coach for the University of Kansas swimming program. He was there only four years but led the Jayhawk’s to two Big Eight Conference Championships in 1978 and 1979. Bill always loved the southwest and when he was offered the head men’s and women’s coaching job at the University of New Mexico he jumped at the chance. He coached at UNM for 24 years until he retired, leading the men’s team to a WAC Conference
Championship in 1986, had 12 All-Americans, and named WAC Coach of the Year four times.
Bill’s retirement was short-lived as he loved coaching age-group swimmers and when offered the opportunity he accepted the head coaching position at FAST – Fort Collins Area Swim Team. Bill was also a volunteer coach alongside his son Joe at University of Notre Dame in 2014-2015 and an assistant coach for the Fossil Ridge girl’s swim team for 2018-19 season.
While Bill had a successful coaching career including coaching two Olympic swimmers, his relationships with his family, friends and swimmers gave him such joy. He touched so many young people and he enjoyed hearing about their lives and families once they finished their swimming years.
Bill loved his family dearly and is missed by his wife of 40 years, Leslie, and three sons; Brent in Arvada, CO; Bob and his wife Felicia in San Diego, CA; and Joe and his wife Mary Kate in San Diego, CA. Also surviving him is his granddaughter, Reagan Nohea, and his step-grandchildren, Sarah, Marshall, and Erin.
A Celebration of Life open house will be held on June 4, 2022 from 2:00-5:00 pm on the New Belgium Porch at Canvas Stadium on the campus of Colorado State University. All are welcomed to share stories and memories of a life well lived. In lieu of flowers, a donation to RamStrength Lubick foundation is welcomed. Bill had a strong belief in their mission and dedicated many volunteer hours to RamStrength including a 54 mile walk in 24 hours to raise awareness and donations. Information can be found at sites.google.com/view/billspahncelebration.