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Originally published September 3, 2011 at 01:47p.m., updated September 3, 2011 at 04:03p.m.

Former KU coach Don Fambrough, 88, passes away

Former Kansas University linebacker Willie Pless, left, meets with former KU coach Don Fambrough in this 2007 file photo. Fambrough died on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011 at the age of 88.

Former Kansas University linebacker Willie Pless, left, meets with former KU coach Don Fambrough in this 2007 file photo. Fambrough died on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011 at the age of 88.

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Former Kansas University football player and coach Don Fambrough passed away today at the age of 88.

Fambrough, known for his undying loyalty and love of KU, was probably best known for his anti-Missouri feelings. In addition to vowing never to spend a dollar in the state — and backing it up — Fambrough often delivered a fiery anti-Tigers speech to the KU football team during Missouri week each season.

Players said they looked forward to Fambrough’s speech each year and several even tried their hand at impersonating the old ball coach.

“Don Fambrough was an icon — not just on the KU campus, but across the state of Kansas,” KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger said. “He wore his passion for KU on his sleeve, and every day he proudly demonstrated his love for Kansas Football and Kansas Athletics. He loved his players, and they played their hearts out for him. We will all miss him greatly.”

Fambrough played offensive guard at Kansas from 1946-47 and then went on to serve two stints as the school’s head football coach, first from 1971-74 and again from 1979-82.

He finished with an overall record of 36-49-5 during his eight seasons as head coach of the Jayhawks, and led the Jayhawks to two bowl appearances.

Fambrough is survived by his two sons, Preston and Robert, along with several grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.

“Don Fambrough is a Jayhawk legend,” KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little said. “As an alumnus and a storied and salty football coach, Fambrough had an unbridled passion for the University of Kansas. On behalf of the entire Jayhawk nation, I honor his memory and extend the deepest condolences to his family, friends and generation after generation of KU fans he touched.”

Comments

johnnyhrdwd 8 years, 7 months ago

R.I.P. coach, you're hatred of Mizzou will live on.

Troll_or_AntiTroll 8 years, 7 months ago

As will the immortal saying, "Going with Fam to Birmingham."

Robert Brock 8 years, 7 months ago

He gave a lot to the university. I agree...Fambrough Field has a good ring to it.

RIP. We love you, Coach!

bad_dog 8 years, 7 months ago

Heck, I thought it was "Ferret Field".

bad_dog 8 years, 7 months ago

RIP Coach, you will be missed trmendously.

Chris Phillips 8 years, 7 months ago

Coach Fambrough was a fierce supporter of the KU Jayhawks. He will be truly missed.

Ben Kane 8 years, 7 months ago

'tis a sad day for KU fans everywhere. RIP coach Fam, we will all carry on your hatred of Mizery forever.

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 7 months ago

Get your pitchforks and your torches and raid mizzou in his honor!

Rest in peace coach Fam.

texashawk10 8 years, 7 months ago

Treat the Cowboys like they were Missouri tonight in honor Coach Fambrough! ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK GO KU!!!!!!

LAJayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Rest in peace, Coach. Sad, sad day for anyone who ever played for, attended, cheered for or even heard of the University of Kansas. Today we lost a warrior.

Even more of a reason to beat mizzou.

Andy Hess 8 years, 7 months ago

RIP Coach Fambrough. Your hatred for Mizzou is unmatched. You will be missed.

bastet 8 years, 7 months ago

His love of KU is unmatched, and that's more important. This is a loss for this community.

Tim Orel 8 years, 7 months ago

Especially since Mizzou is not willing to come play at Memorial Stadium anymore.

Fambrough Field would be good, so I'm not sure KU would do it.

Clarence Haynes 8 years, 7 months ago

"Guaran-damn-tee you" that Coach Fam is at peace!

Jason Stubbs 8 years, 7 months ago

Rock Chalk Coach Fam!!! Rock Chalk Forever!!!!!!

Brian Skelly 8 years, 7 months ago

The renaming of the field / stadium has some merit.

Regardless, Coach Fam will be missed. What a great Jayhawk he was.

Bob Forer 8 years, 7 months ago

A wonderful man and a great Jayhawk. He will be missed.

huskerpower 8 years, 7 months ago

“You read about how they’re calling this the Missouri-Kansas Showdown,” he says. “Showdown my ass! It’s (expletive) war!

“They started the war! They sent that (expletive) (William) Quantrill over here! That (expletive) killed all the men, raped all the women, burned the town down!”

You will be missed coach.... Rock Chalk!

Robert Holmes 8 years, 7 months ago

The reason for the naming it a showdown was out of respect for our troops who die everyday in battles around the world so we can continue to love this game called football. That's a real war not the KU/MU, Michigan/Ohio St., or OU/Texas game.

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

I'm very sorry to hear about Coach Fambroughs passing, but how appropriate that was on the opening day of football season. It's a real shame that we didn't open with Missouri this year! Coach would have just dearly LOVED that!!

I, like most KU fans, looked forward to the MU game every year, but I enjoyed his pre and post game speeches as much as the games ( and some years even MORE than the games ).

What a great character, coach and man. You will be missed Coach. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!!

fromlarryville 8 years, 7 months ago

I know you were wanting to make the game tonight, but Im sure you'll be there in that stadium forever! RIP Coach!

Jeff Kilgore 8 years, 7 months ago

RIP Coach!

You know, he must have hated the demise of the Big Eight.

Dan Harris 8 years, 7 months ago

Coach kept trying to cop a feel! RIP Coach Fam KU will sorely miss you on the sidelines but I know you will be watching from above. If you have the chance to pull some strings up there when we play Mizzu I;m sure you will!

Rob Curley 8 years, 7 months ago

Coach Fambrough, you were my favorite KU coach from any sport. Your pure passion for this university and for the Lawrence community was inspiring. I am so sad about this news, but I also feel like I should be celebrating the life of a true Jayhawk, instead of feeling so down. I am currently many miles from Kansas, but I will definitely wearing Crimson and Blue today in your honor. More blue than crimson, literally and figuratively. Rest in peace, coach.

John Mueller 8 years, 7 months ago

There has never been a greater contributor to Kansas football.

We love you , Coach Fam!

If I remember correctly, I think coach brought back the powder blues.

We might need to get those old musty cotton jerseys out of a closet under the North bleachers in his honor.

Godspeed coach!

TopCityHawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Love and Respect Coach Fam. You were the best. R.I.P.

JayhawkPiller82 8 years, 7 months ago

Did they ever rename Missouri street? It would be a great way to remember Coach!! RC

pizzaboy225 8 years, 7 months ago

i still don't why they haven't renamed at least a part of Missouri Street, Fambrough Drive

Lonnie Ross Dillon 8 years, 7 months ago

As I recall the folks who lived there didn't want to have to change their address.

ahpersecoachingexperience 8 years, 7 months ago

Special thanks to turner for not letting coach fam speak to the team last season!

Funhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

I believe Don's health at the time prevented his speaking.

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Any chance everyone could just honor Coach Fambrough for this one day and forget about all the other garbage? Please.

Kit Duncan 8 years, 7 months ago

My freshman year Coach Fambrough took the Jayhawks to the Liberty Bowl. Though the team did not win (truly one of the worst calls I've ever seen by an official), it was a magical season!

Rest in Peace Coach Fambrough!

twoton 8 years, 7 months ago

Will miss you Coach but know that you will be joining Del. What a team.

riverdrifter 8 years, 7 months ago

So long, coach, it was truly good to know ye. My thoughts go out to Preston.

Lonnie Ross Dillon 8 years, 7 months ago

Why? Passes away is a commonly used and acceptable term.

bad_dog 8 years, 7 months ago

Well at least we now know KSA 21-3503's new "loser name".

Once a loser, always a loser. Doesn't matter that much, though. You'll get run again, soon enough.

texashawk10 8 years, 7 months ago

manginorh00lz...a pathetic waste of humanity.

hammerhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Love you coach. You were one cool dude and you will be greatly missed by the Jayhawk Nation.

Vince Brown 8 years, 7 months ago

I, too, support Coach Gill, but he made a major mistake not letting Coach Fambrough address the team prior to the mu game. Play a video of the speech if the Coach was ailing.

Rob Keeney 8 years, 7 months ago

Coach Fam is my favorite Jayhawk of all time. RIP Coach!

Christopher Hauser 8 years, 7 months ago

This is a letter that I wrote to the Journal World quite a while ago:

On May 15, 1967 Kansas Assistant Football Coach Don Fambrough mailed a letter of intent to play football at The University of Kansas to a little known lineman who hailed from the small city of Ellinwood, Kansas named Niles Hauser. Hauser would not get his first start at the guard position for the University of Kansas until November 7, 1969, a contest against Colorado that Kansas lost 17-14.

The name Hauser would never be associated with that of Kansas greats such as Riggins, Sayers, Hadl, or Douglas. In fact, I would bet that 9.9 out of 10 die hard Kansas fans would not even know who Niles Hauser even was. Chuck Woodling even wrote a column titled, “On the Bench” in the Lawrence Journal World on Hauser the day before his first start saying, “For those of you who have never heard of Niles Hauser (and that should include a majority of the population), he’s going to start at guard for the Jayhawks Saturday against Colorado.” Ask Chuck, maybe he remembers!

Anyway, the point of all my rambling is that Coach Fambrough remembers. On January 12, 2001 my father, Niles Hauser passed away suddenly from a stroke that he suffered in a Fairfax, Virginia hotel room during a business trip. Not more than a week later Coach Fambrough sent my family a hand written letter expressing his sympathies. I remember thinking to myself, how can a man of Coach Fam’s age remember a player that had such little impact on the history books at The University of Kansas let alone remember the names of that players immediate family?

The only explanation that I could come up with was that the letter of intent that Coach Fambrough sent to my father meant more than just signing a piece of paper that allowed him to play football at the University of Kansas. It meant that my father had become a part of Coach’s life forever, regardless of how many downs he played or how many blocks he made, coach would always be there for him.

I write this letter because my father is unable to and I know that he would have. The University of Kansas and The City of Lawrence have an obligation to honor Coach Fambrough, not because he is a former player and coach at the University of Kansas but instead for the upstanding, honorable, and loving person that he is. I don’t think that I am going out on a limb by saying that Coach Fambrough has touched the hearts of every player that he has coached at The University of Kansas as well as those player’s families.

The University of Kansas has simply been Coach Fambrough’s canvas and he has painted a masterpiece upon that canvas. Let us not make the mistake of waiting until it is too late to honor a man that has given his life to The University of Kansas and its family and done so much to help make this University what it is today. Let us find a way to truly honor him the way that he deserves.

Dan Harris 8 years, 7 months ago

Awesome post and I agree, the university needs to honor Coach Fam In some way.

kureader 8 years, 7 months ago

Well said, Chris. And very true. Fam wasn't just a coach. He was like a second Dad to many of us who were lucky to enough to play for him and to know him.

A couple years ago at the Orange Bowl, Fam took my son and daughter aside at the hotel in Miami. They were both KU students at the time. He put an arm around each of them and quietly told them a story about their dad. My kids grinned from ear to ear, as he spoke to them. I don't know what Coach said to my kids. He probaby made up some of it. He always said, "Don't let the truth stand in the way of a good story". Anyway, there are many many former players, like your Dad, Chris who were touched by Coach Fambrough. We'll all miss him. Thanks for leaving your post.

FLJHK 8 years, 7 months ago

One of the greatest posts I've ever read. Thank you for submitting this. What a wonderful tribute to a great man and great Jayhawk. RIP Coach.

okiedave 8 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for sharing your memory of Coach Fambrough.

sevenyearhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

I guess the thought of another season of Turner was just too much for the old guy ...

Thank you for EVERYTHING Coach Fambrough, I'm so very sorry that you never saw Missouri Street renamed by Memorial Stadium because of a bunch of panty-waisted idiots.

We fixed it for a couple weeks, but the cops busted us.

Think I'll re-read the Three Little Jayhawks to my kids tonight ...

Kylee Manahan 8 years, 7 months ago

He's finally at home with Del. Rest in Peace Coach. Miss ya Del!

kubbjunkie 8 years, 7 months ago

What a view you and your Orange Bowl Co-capt. have for the game today. You guys and your wives are back together again! RCJH go KU! Have one for me with Otto! RIP Coach Fam...........you will be missed, but the memories will live on!

Rodney Stice 8 years, 7 months ago

Goodbye coach, see you again in the next life.

Mike Kendall 8 years, 7 months ago

Wow! What sad news. You will be missed coach. I always felt like there was one person that had more passion for the Jayhawks than myself---that person was Coach Fam. I am kidding because there are a lot of passionate Jayhawk fans out there, but you catch my drift. Coach, your disgust for Mizzou will live on and you will not be forgotten. RIP and Rock Chalk Jayhawk forever!

tauck 8 years, 7 months ago

Football is 10% technique and 90% deeesire!!!! RIP Coach Fam....You will be missed

Lance Hobson 8 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for teaching us how to hate Mizzou properly!

Randy Bombardier 8 years, 7 months ago

"I don't even like their love." Favorite Fambrough quote talking about Missouri and the Border War. Well, you'all have a great post-game party and wake there in Lawrence. Wish I was there.

mdj444 8 years, 7 months ago

Do it now! Name the field in Memorial Stadium - Fambrough Field! Noboby as ever bled Jayahwk Blue like Coach Fambrough. It is not about records - it is about heart!

Matt Kenton 8 years, 7 months ago

I'll never forget the game a few years ago when he was sitting directly behind me. What a character he was. So glad Metro Sports in KC produced their Border War documentary because it really captures Coach Fam in all his glory.

He was such a breath of fresh... er, foul-mouthed air in the sterile, politically correct world of today. Truly a legend.

Fambrough Field

fanofKU 8 years, 7 months ago

About five years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Coach Fambrough for a fundraising campaign. Our interview was scheduled to last about 45-minutes, which we used every minute of that talking about the project, which he was passionate about. And then he asked, "are you a KU fan?" Of course I said yes. Then he said, "good! Do you want to see my KU room?" He said he could get a little wound up and excited when he talked about some of the things in the room, would I be offended. I was not, so he took me in and shared stories about every football, plaque, memorabilia and printed story. He remembered everything like it was yesterday. He certainly had a way with words, but what a story he had to tell!! I was with him for and hour and 45-minutes. May you rest in KU Heaven, Coach!

55jayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Chris, I was a player like your father but I was terrible! For some reason Coach always watched out for me trying to teach me other things not only in football but life. He got mad at me at practice one day then without pads took me one on one. No pads on he knocked the crap out of me with his forearm shiver he was known for. After I cleared my head he just put his arm around me and said that's how I want it done. Obviously I never did it right because I never started, but did play when the game's outcome was never in question, he and Mitchell would let me play and I always held my own. Over the years I directed some players to him and KU and they all started. I would come back to KU maybe once or twice every few years and he never forgot me. He would treat me like I was Curtis, John, or Pappy because that was "Coach". I brought my Granddaughter with me from Texas to a football game and he put his arm around this young girl that want to attend TX A&M on a softball scholarship. He sold her on KU and that's what he did with everyone, he sold KU and always made you look or feel good accept at a few practices in my case. If KU offers her a schlorship I am pretty sure she will go to KU, not because of me but rather what "Coach" said! RIP "Coach" you earned it!

55jayhawk 8 years, 7 months ago

Chris, I was a player like your father but I was terrible! For some reason Coach always watched out for me trying to teach me other things not only in football but life. He got mad at me at practice one day then without pads took me one on one. No pads on he knocked the crap out of me with his forearm shiver he was known for. After I cleared my head he just put his arm around me and said that's how I want it done. Obviously I never did it right because I never started, but did play when the game's outcome was never in question, he and Mitchell would let me play and I always held my own. Over the years I directed some players to him and KU and they all started. I would come back to KU maybe once or twice every few years and he never forgot me. He would treat me like I was Curtis, John, or Pappy because that was "Coach". I brought my Granddaughter with me from Texas to a football game and he put his arm around this young girl that want to attend TX A&M on a softball scholarship. He sold her on KU and that's what he did with everyone, he sold KU and always made you look or feel good accept at a few practices in my case. If KU offers her a schlorship I am pretty sure she will go to KU, not because of me but rather what "Coach" said! RIP "Coach" you earned it!

Christopher Hauser 8 years, 7 months ago

God broke the mold when he made coach Fam for sure!

azjhawk67 8 years, 7 months ago

My condolences go out to the Fambrough family and to all who knew and loved Coach Fambrough. I was shocked to find out this morning that we had lost our beloved Coach. Not that we should be at his age of 88, but I'm sure that like a lot of his former players, I thought he was just too damn tough to die or would at least outlive me. There are too many stories out there that unfortunately will never be told and it is time to tell the ones we still remember. For those who played for him, he made an impact on our lives that we probably didn't fully appreciate until years later. I was lucky, he gave me a second chance when I really didn't deserve one - probably happened to a couple of other players over the years - and for that I will always be grateful to him. He believed in me when not too many others did. But that was Coach Fam - he was everything we thought he was, larger than life and forever the face of Jayhawk Football. Rest in Peace Coach. You will be missed.

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