“Buffalo Bill” Harris, a star running back for the University of Colorado football team in the early 1960s who would later head the school’s Alumni C Club, passed away Tuesday in Marina Del Rey, Calif., after a long illness.
He was 79.
Harris was named Alumni C Club director in May 2001 and would serve in the position for over nine years, the longest tenure of anyone in the position since it was created in 1996.
He had returned to CU the previous October to work in CU’s Alumni Association office, specifically to strengthen the Black Alumni Association on campus. He continued to work in that capacity after moving over to athletics.
As a player, he earned the nickname “Buffalo Bill” and lettered three times from 1961 through 1963; he led the team in rushing as a junior with 582 yards in 1962. He is one of 56 players in school history to have rushed for over 1,000 yards in a CU career (eighth at the time when he graduated and still 30th on the list with 1,486). His 2,411 all-purpose yards amassed via rushing, receiving and returns is 32nd (he was sixth on that list at the end of his career).
Following his playing days at CU, he was drafted by the NFL’s New York Giants (14th round, 193rd pick overall); he went on to play three years in the Canadian Football League, first for Ottawa (in 1964) and then Calgary (1965-66).
He would finish earning his bachelor’s degree in Education at Montclair (N.J.) State University in 1968, and went on to earn his master’s in both Sociology and Business from MSU in 1972.
“Bill just loved the University of Colorado, being a part of it and what he considered the CU family it represented for him,” his wife Sue said. “It gave him such an opportunity for his life going from New Jersey to Colorado and meant everything to him.”
He was born May 30, 1942, in New Jersey and graduated from Hackensack (N.J.) High School.
A U.S. Army veteran, he served in Korea, in which one of his assignments included patrolling the 38th parallel.
Harris, who will be cremated, is survived by his wife Sue of nearly 54 years (they met at CU in a Western Civilization class in Old Main); son Trevor, grandson Max and granddaughter Lila; and a brother Darryl; he was preceded in death by a daughter, Lisa. A memorial service is in the planning stages for later this spring.
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