From a teacher’s perspective

Howard grew up in the shadows of the GHS tragedy

September 20, 2021

Bob Howard has lived in the Gunnison Valley his entire life. Howard graduated from GHS in 1987 and later became a teacher and coach of various Cowboy athletic teams.

At the time of the crash, however, Howard was only two years-old. And for a long time, he doesn’t remember anybody ever saying anything about the bus crash. 

 “The way we dealt with it was we didn’t talk about it,” said Howard, now a history teacher and assistant for the football team.

The community continued to live in silence up until the school was remodeled around the 40th anniversary of the wreck. 

“When we revamped the school, they put the football stadium down here and that was really the first time we had much of a talk about that,” Howard continued. “When we commemorated the stadium, we had a discussion with the kids that were playing at the time about how precious the moment was and I think that when we bring it up, that is the thing to take away from it.”

According to Howard, the 50th anniversary had far more involvement from the community compared to previous years. At the 25th anniversary, students and staff retired the jerseys of the fallen athletes, which are now showcased in the GHS commons. 

On the 40th anniversary, the 1971 GHS Football Memorial Foundation was created and Memorial Stadium was founded. Each school year, the foundation gives out two scholarships to GHS graduates. 

This year at the 50th anniversary, more than 1,000 spectators packed in to Memorial Stadium to once again commemorate the loss of the eight athletes and coach.

To find more information or to donate, contact the 1971 GHS Football Memorial Foundation at, or Roxie Rule at 970-275-5326 and Matt Robbins at 970-596-0715.

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