Brendan Maas does not mourn for the loss of his brother, Dan Maas, because of the special person he lost.
The younger brother to the 1987 Santa Fe Prep graduate and accomplished distance runner, who died Friday after a car crash in Thornton, Colo., mourns for the students and the people in the Thompson School District who didn’t get a chance to know what he does.
“I will mourn for the people who have yet to receive their gifts,” Brendan Maas said. “That is the tragedy.”
The Loveland (Colo.) Reporter-Herald reported Monday that Maas and his wife, Loan Maas, died from injuries suffered when a sport-utility vehicle broadsided the couple’s three-wheeled vehicle just a block from their home as they returned from a dinner in Cheyenne, Wyo. Dan Maas, who worked as the chief operations officer with Thompson School District since 2014, died Friday night, while Loan passed away Monday morning.
“They were just getting warmed up,” Brendan Maas said. “They had so much to give, and that is why so I mourn for the people who missed out. It’s not fair to them.”
Before moving into the family business of the education field — parents Fred and Debbie Maas are teachers while Brendan coached cross-country and track and field at Capital from 2003-04 and 2006-10 — Dan Maas made his mark in track and field. He was a state champion in the 3,200 and 1,600 meters under the tutelage of his dad at Prep, then moved onto to Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo., where he was a seven-time national champion.
Dan Maas ran professionally for several years, and qualified in the 1,500 for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1996. He missed out on the finals by hundredths of a second in a field in which the top 14 runners were separated by .70. Brendan Maas, who stayed with his brother during the trials, tried to find a way to bring a smile to Dan’s face amid his disappointment that day.
“If I was around, he was willing to look up,” Brendan Maas said. “We would find something together that was symbolic to us, and it was like, ‘OK, that wasn’t a bad day after all because that just happened.’ ”
If anyone knew what kind of person Dan Maas was, it was Brendan. Even though Dan was getting ready for college by the time his younger brother was 7, the family joked that Dan and Brendan were “twins 11 years apart.” The two shared a bedroom from the time Brendan was 3 months old until Dan graduated from high school, and Brendan admitted his brother’s departure left a big hole in his life.
Dan found a way to communicate with him, be it by phone or even through a tape cassette the brothers would send each other during Dan’s freshman year at Adams State.
“He did it so I could hear his voice because we couldn’t afford to always call him long distance,” Brendan said. “He would just record everything he was doing, thinking of words of encouragement and he would send it to me. I would record my messages over it and what I was thinking and do that every week.”
It was no surprise that the elder Maas became an educator — even though Debbie Maas threatened to make her sons pay back their tuition if they did that.
“That came from his family,” said Laura LewAllen, Prep head cross country coach and family friend. “That’s what he needed to be because that was how he was raised.”
Dan Maas began as a teacher in the Aguilar (Colo.) School District before moving on to the Centennial Boards of Cooperative Educational Services. He also served as chief technology officer for the Littleton School District before taking a similar job at Thompson. Dan Maas earned his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, where he was also on staff as an instructor.
“This is a huge loss for our district,” said Thompson School District Superintendent Dr. Stan Scheer in a statement over the weekend. “Dan was a highly talented and resourceful person who brought so much strength to TSD through his leadership and career background. It will be a huge challenge to fill the vacuum that has been left by his sudden passing.”
Dan and Loan Maas leave a son, Calvin, who is a student at Colorado State.
LewAllen said the cross-country team will dedicate this season to Dan Maas, and she said a flower was left on a plaque dedicated to Maas and his accomplishments in the hallway of the trophy.
“We just came out of practice and it was there,” LewAllen said.