RBC I Rangely High School alum and former Meeker teacher/coach Bill Turner, along with his former University of Utah teammates, winners of the 1964 Liberty Bowl, were recently inducted into the university’s Hall of Fame.
Turner, along with his wife Annie, two of his sons, his twin daughters, and three grandsons attended the festivities, which included a banquet, a tour of the $36 million athletic facility and an introduction on the field. A highlight clip of the 1964 Liberty Bowl was shown on the Jumbotron in Rice-Eccles Stadium, before a game against Fresno State.
“It was a thrill to see my kids and grandkids take pride in what we did,” Turner said of the experience.
The 1964 Liberty Bowl was one of eight bowl games played and the first major college football game to be played indoors and according to Wikepedia, the only one to be played in Atlantic City at the Atlantic City Convention Hall. Curt Gowdy, Jim McKay and Paul Christman announced the game for The American Broadcasting Company (ABC), whom bought the rights to broadcast the first nationwide telecast of an indoor football game.
Utah played and defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers 32-6 to boost their record to 9-2, the best record for the University of Utah, until 1994, when the Utes went 10-2.
Turner started at offensive right guard for the 1964 Liberty Bowl winners, blocking for All-American Ron Jefferson, who went on to play professional football.
Turner made Rangely history when he became its first state wrestling champion as a senior in 1958 and was a paratrooper in the United States Army, stationed in Fort Bragg, N.C., after graduation. Turner played football for the Army and helped his team defeat the United States Air Force in the Freedom Bowl.
Turner said after serving “two years, 10 months and 11 days,” in the Army, he married Annie, started college and they had three kids while he earned his Bachelor of Science degree.
“The G.I. Bill went into effect one day after I was graduated,” Turner said.
Turner was graduated from college in 1966, taught one year in Cortez, four years at Mullen High School in Denver, then moved to Meeker, where he retired from teaching after 30 years.
Turner made Meeker history when he coached the 1979 wrestling team to the school’s first state championship title in any sport and was inducted into the Colorado Coaches Hall of Fame in 1997.