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Famous CU Buffs fan Betty Hoover passes away at 95

Betty and her sister Peggy have been CU football season ticket holders since 1958

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Known as the “CU Twins,” Peggy Coppom, left, and Betty Hoover, participate in a CU Stampede on the Pearl Street Mall in 2017. Hoover passed away Wednesday at the age of 95.
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When McKinley Wright wraps up his basketball career with the Colorado Buffaloes next year, he’ll have plenty of memories of coaches, teammates, wins, and even some losses.

He’ll also have memories of two of the brightest smiles he’s seen.

For 80 years, Betty Hoover and her twin sister, Peggy Coppom, have been iconic fans at CU sporting events. Always in matching outfits – often a gold sweatshirt or CU jacket – and carrying black and gold pom poms, the “CU Twins” are beloved by players, coaches and fans and that led to an outpouring of emotion from Wright and CU fans everywhere on Wednesday.

After a battle with pancreatic cancer, Hoover died Wednesday morning at 95 years old.

“It’s very sad,” Wright said. “I’m praying for the Hoover family. I’ve never met anyone as loving and supporting and caring as those two. It was like two peas in a pod. … They hold a special place in my heart.”

He’s not alone.

For decades, CU players and coaches have been greeted at the stadium or arena, or other CU events, with smiles, waves or hugs from the twins.

“It is a sad day for Buff Nation with the passing of Betty Hoover, one of our beloved twins,” CU athletic director Rick George said. “While we have many great fans, none have been more visible and loved than Betty and Peggy.  If you know CU Athletics, you know Betty and Peggy.”

Throughout the day Wednesday, dozens of CU fans and athletes responded with emotion and memories on social media, including women’s basketball coach JR Payne, former women’s basketball star Kennedy Leonard, former volleyball star Nicole Edelman and CU assistant football coach Darrin Chiaverini, who also played for the Buffs.

In addition to Wright, men’s basketball player Evan Battey and former players such as Spencer Dinwiddie, Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott offered their thoughts and support.

Dinwiddie, who played at CU from 2011-14 and now stars for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, wrote that Hoover “was extremely kind as is her sister and they were at every game. Pillars of CU.”

Scott, who played basketball with the Buffs from 2012-16, tweeted: “Sad news. Great people! They always win or lose had hugs to hand out after games! Helped make playing in Coors special. R.I.P. Betty.”

Hoover’s son-in-law, Bill Mark, said he was not surprised to see so much love and support.

“We expected an outpouring of love, we really did,” said Mark, a CU alum. “The twins are iconic, but my relationship with (Hoover) is very unique. For 40 years, she and I have been going go the CU football and basketball games together.

“We’re sad, but we’re celebrating an incredible woman and an incredible life.”

Mark said there will be a private mass and burial for family only, with a possible celebration of Hoover’s life for the public at a later date.

In celebrating Hoover’s life, it’s nearly impossible to not also celebrate Coppom, as the two sisters have been inseparable since they were born on Nov. 19, 1924, in Walsenburg.

After growing up in Haxtun, their family moved to Longmont in 1939 and then Boulder in 1940. They both graduated in 1943 from Boulder High School, where their brother, Bill Fitzgerald, helped the Panthers win state titles in football and basketball.

Hoover and Coppom remained life-long fans of the Panthers and often attended their games, as well. The sisters had a combined seven children, all of which graduated from Boulder High. In 2018, the twins were honored at Boulder’s homecoming football game.

Although the two sisters lived in different parts of Boulder, they could be seen around town together. Wright said he sometimes walks into his bank and sees the twins and gives them a hug.

Die-hard CU fans since their youth, Hoover and Coppom have been CU football season ticket holders since 1958 and they’ve become well-known among Buff Nation. Through their devotion to the Buffs and their long association with The Buffalo Belles, a group started in 1970 to give women a greater opportunity to be involved as CU fans, the twins developed close relationships with athletic directors, coaches, athletes and fans.

According to Mark, they befriended the grandmother of football legend Eric Bieniemy and became close with many others. At basketball games, they are often cheered when they enter the CU Events Center together.

“Where we sit is a parade of students wanting to get their picture taken with them,” Mark said. “It’s a parade of athletes coming up to see them, even those that have graduated many, many years ago.”

Ceal Barry, CU’s legendary women’s basketball coach from 1983-2005, said Hoover and Coppom connected with Barry’s mother and took her to church when she was in town. But, like Wright and many others, Barry will never forget seeing Hoover and Coppom on game day.

“They were just joy,” Barry said. “I think they were a comfort for athletes to see them at the games and coaches to see them because they just brought nothing but positive energy. No judgment; just love. Just support for the athletes and the coaches. That’s Peggy and Betty.

“I think people came to depend on them. You see those two, it’s just nothing but love for the CU Buffs.”

That love is mutual, as the sisters have supported not only football and basketball, but all sports at CU.

“They loved those student-athletes at CU and the student-athletes loved them,” Mark said.

Wright said Wednesday was emotional for him as he learned of Hoover’s passing.

“Maybe we can do something; put her name on our jersey or something,” he said. “At Colorado, they are probably two of the biggest fans in CU history, not just basketball. You see them supporting the football team and all the teams and all athletics.”

Hoover and Coppom attended their last CU game together on Feb. 22, when the men’s basketball team played UCLA in the home finale.

In March, Hoover had emergency gall bladder surgery. At that time, doctors discovered she had pancreatic cancer and a tumor on her lung.

“She did really well up until about two weeks ago,” Mark said.

At that point, Hoover moved in with the Marks and the family has enjoyed being close in that time, he said. As Hoover’s health deteriorated in recent days, Coppom spent the night at the Marks’ house Monday and Tuesday – both times sleeping in bed next to her sister.

After Hoover passed Wednesday morning, Mark said Coppom looked at her sister and said, “Well, Betty, we came into the world together and I was here for you at the very end.”