Gene Markley, a standout athlete whose unwavering support of CSU and Fort Collins made him a pillar of the community, died March 13. He was 94.
“Our entire CSU community mourns the loss of a great man and a great friend to Colorado State University,” President Tony Frank said. “The course of Gene Markley’s life tells a remarkable story – an outstanding student, a war hero, an entrepreneur, a family man, and a community builder. He was, above all, a man of honesty and integrity who was deeply respected as a leader and a human being. We are deeply grateful for all he gave to our campus over the years, but most of all for his friendship and his example.”
The 1947 CSU graduate in civil engineering grew Fort Collins-based Markley Motors into one of the area’s most iconic auto dealerships. Started by his father, Ferd in the late 1930s, Gene and son, Doug grew the business into a success story spanning more than seven decades.
“Gene was a visionary leader for the Fort Collins community and for CSU,” said Brett Anderson, CSU’s vice president for University Advancement. “He helped shape the landscape of Fort Collins and played a major role in the development of CSU. He was one of our most loyal and passionate fans and one of our strongest advocates. He will be sorely missed.”
Markley served the community in a number or roles – president of the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce, school board member and hospital board member, among others – and he was respected by generations of loyal customers who appreciated his honest approach to business.
Passionate Rams fan
But it was his love for his alma mater that made him an icon at CSU. A standout in track in field who helped Colorado A&M win a conference title in 1940, Markley was a passionate Rams fan throughout his adult life.
“Gene always felt like CSU had played a huge role in his success and he wanted to make sure he did what he could to pay the school back,” said Kristi Bohlender, the executive director of the CSU Alumni Association and longtime friend of the Markley family. “He was involved in pretty much every athletics project over the past 50 years, and he was one of our most generous former athletes.”
Bohlender said Markley worked with Bob Reynolds, who owned the local Oldsmobile/Cadillac dealership, to initiate a program for area dealerships to provide cars for CSU’s coaches. And Markley was a charter member of CSU’s Legacy Donor Club, which requires a $10,000 annual donation to support a Rams athlete. His first Legacy athlete was legendary CSU quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt.