Simpson College community saddened over Feeney and Fuson deaths


by Amelia Schafer, Staff Reporter

Towards the end of winter break, the Simpson College community was shaken by the deaths of two influential men, Speech and Debate assistant coach Marty Feeney and former Marketing and Media strategist Ken Fuson. 

Both faculty members had a lasting impact on students and staff alike. 

Junior Michael Roets will never forget Feeney’s energetic and caring personality.

“The pinnacle of Marty’s involvement was his candy, everyone on the team would probably tell you the same thing,” Roets said. “He went out of his way to try and help the team and one way he did that was through weeks in advance getting Spencer Waugh to send out emails to the students and find out their favorite type of theater candy. He would make sure that every student had their first choice of movie theater candy and he would personally distribute them. It’s just in the small things that really showed you how he was.”

Besides handing out candy, Feeney always made students feel included.

“At Marty’s service, someone who spoke made a really good point in that when Marty was interacting with you he spoke to you like the most important thing to him at that moment was the conversation he was having with you,” Roets said.

Something Feeney often did for students was making special posts for their birthdays. These posts were sometimes very, very late, but that just added to the charm. 

“We joked that Marty constructed his own linguistic model for communicating, especially on the internet,” Roets said. “He’d write these long posts that were fascinating to read. They were always heartfelt that an accomplished professor in communications would go out of his way to write these long posts that referenced 15 to 20 movies, three books and four Beetles songs. He’d go out of his way to make people on the team feel happy. He was like a wacky historian for the speech and debate team.” 

Fuson arrived at Simpson in 2011 and served as the college’s writer and media strategist. Fuson was a talented journalist who wrote stories for the college as well as the Des Moines Register. 

Bryan Geelan, the acting director of the Marketing and Public Relations departments remembers Fuson fondly as both a coworker and a friend. 

“Overall, he was obviously a very talented journalist and a very intelligent person, but he was also a really good friend,” Geelan said. “When you had a conversation with him, you felt like you were the only person in the room. He really pulled from his background in journalism. He asked thoughtful questions, remembered details, he would ask you about specific things. He just had a mind that worked like that. He was a really good person.”

Fuson was always thoughtful and was a very considerate friend. 

“He was part of a really cohesive group up here,” Geelan said. “There were lots of good times had both at work and away from work. We would exchange gifts on people’s birthdays. Whoever’s birthday it was would be given something. His gifts to me were always very thoughtful. He knew I was a Twins fan so he got me a book about the history of the Twins – “Things About the Twins That You Need to Know Before You Die,” and put a note saying you better hurry up. He gave me a book about sports writing. There are really too many good stories to tell, there’s not just one that stands out.” 

In addition to working as a journalist for the PR and Marketing department for seven years, Fuson also ran journalism camps around the country.

The impact Fuson and Feeney had on the Simpson community won’t be soon forgotten.