Obituary of Alan Cass
Claude Frederick “Alan” Cass, passed away surrounded by his family on April 18, 2018 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Lafayette, Colo. He was 77.
He was born March 20, 1941 in Sebring, Fla., where his father was supervising a construction project. His family returned back to their beloved Colorado when he was 6, where both parents worked at the University of Colorado: his father as a stage manager and supervisor of campus functions, his mother as a dining hall supervisor. He said his earliest memories were helping his father out backstage at Macky Auditorium, and little did he know at the time that was the precursor to spending most of his life working for or having some kind of association with the university.
Cass attended Uni Hill Elementary School, Baseline Junior High and Boulder High, graduating from the latter in 1959.
He enrolled at CU, first as a Theatre major, but eventually earned his degree in History, graduating in 1963. As a freshman, he started working as a sound and lighting technician as well as a stagehand at Macky.
Over the course of the next four decades he was a full-time CU employee, first as Macky’s stage manager in 1965, succeeding his father in that position, and two years later as the venue’s director, and then as the assistant director of the University Memorial Center (UMC). He concluded his run as the director of the Coors Events Center for 14 years, taking early retirement in 1998. He had moved over from the UMC to be the assistant director of the building when it opened in 1979. He also served an assistant athletic director the last three years at the school.
Cass once said, “CU is like my family. I’ve never really considered working anywhere else.” He was so proud of and grateful for his family's long history in Boulder and his lifelong association with the University of Colorado. His grandmother, Edith Edna Ingram, was one of the first women to graduate from CU in 1891, and his great grandfather Moses Ingram roamed the hills and valleys west of Boulder in 1860 in search of silver and gold. Moses could not have known then that "silver and gold" (CU’s school colors) in a different form would enrich his family for generations to come.
His booming voice matched his squarely-built physique, and since he always sported a thick black beard, he was sometimes called a look-a-like to the late actor Sebastian Cabot. So it was only natural he would announce various events around CU.
He got his start by assisting A.B. “Father Pat” Patterson, who was the longtime public address announcer for almost all Buffalo athletic events. He eventually took over for him, first announcing CU men’s basketball games in 1965 and then took over for Warner Imig handling the football chores in 1982. And along the way, you would also hear Alan behind the mike at baseball, women’s basketball and track and wrestling meets. If an event needed to be announced, the voice the public heard was surely that of C.F. Alan Cass.
He also spent three years as the P.A. announcer for the Denver Gold of the short-lived United States Football League (USFL), had a stint with the Denver Zephyrs, the last minor league baseball team in Denver prior to the arrival of the Colorado Rockies, and also announced numerous high school athletic events in the Denver Metro area.
In 1988, the Denver Broncos were searching for a new public address announcer to replace Hal Taft for their games at Mile High Stadium. They found their man just 25 miles up U.S. 36 in Boulder.
Alan was “old school” when it came to announcing, as he knew he wasn’t the show and had no desire to be one. For him, it came down to providing accurate information but in a concise manner, being well-informed, and the most important aspect of all, pronouncing names correctly. “I’ve always felt you’re not a cheerleader, and you should underplay your role as an announcer,” he said. “My job is to provide information, not entertainment.”
But that didn’t mean he would have to be vanilla; voice inflections come naturally to a P.A. announcer. In the mid-80s, when CU had the alphabet kids in O.C. Oliver and J.J. Flannigan, Alan took a very short pause between saying the O and the C. “O … C … Oliver.” The fans took to it immediately and soon would chant along with him.
For the Broncos, he did the same when an opposing quarterback threw an incomplete pass. “The pass is in … com … plete.” Bronco fans jumped on that one pretty quick, eventually finishing the phrase after he said “is.” And even though stepped down from calling Denver games prior to the 2008 season, that tradition has continued.
He retired from announcing CU events after the 2010-11 athletic year, citing the school’s move to the Pac-12 Conference as a natural “line of demarcation,” and that “serendipity told him it was time to turn the microphone over to the next generation.” Since his first event was the 1961 Big Eight Conference Outdoor Track Championship, it marked a career of exactly 50 years.
His other love besides announcing was the Glenn Miller Orchestra. While working at the UMC where the Glenn Miller Ballroom honors the CU alum, Alan initiated a small display that grew into the Glenn Miller Archive (GMA) at the American Music Research Center on campus, one of the largest to commemorate the “Big Band Era.” Alan served as curator of the GMA until 2015 and, coincidentally, Alan’s pioneer Boulder family was related to the pioneer Boulder family of Helen Burger Miller, Glenn’s wife whom he met while attending C.U.
Cass spent an astonishing 47 years as the steward of the GMA, building and maintaining the significant repository of the big band musician’s photographs, artifacts and memorabilia. He would make upwards of 50 presentations annually at reunions and music festivals literally around the world.
He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from CU in 1999, and received an “Honorary C” letter from athletics in 1982. Most recently, he had been inducted into the Glenn Miller Archive Hall of Fame.
Alan was also heavily involved in community service, both for the CU and for the city of Boulder. He was longtime member of the Heritage Center Advisory Board (1985-2018); UMC Board and Committee on Use of University Facilities (both 1970-79); the American Music Research Center Editorial & Advisory Board and was in the Alumni “C” Club. As for the city, he was on the Board of Trustees for the Boulder Historical Society, committees for the Boulder Chamber of Commerce and Special Transit; and was on the Board of Directors, serving in various roles, for the Foundation for Boulder County Schools.
Alan is survived by his wife of over 54 years, Sue; son Casey, also a longtime CU employee; daughter-in-law Michelle DuBois; and one grandson, Cameron Austin Cass. He was preceded in death by his parents Claude Amos Cass and Marjorie Ann White Cass; sisters, Joyce Baguley McCracken and Edythe Carolyn Schow; and son Christopher Alan.
A private family gathering will be held at Green Mountain Cemetery; a public memorial service and celebration of Alan’s life will be held Saturday, May 5, at 1:30 p.m. in the Byron White Club Room at Folsom Field (fifth level, east side).