Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

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Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

Post by PilotNut on Mon Nov 30, 2015 5:32 pm

Sad news from the bluff:

LINK

Longtime Voice of the Pilots Bill Johnson has Passed Away

William “Bill” Johnson, the radio play-by-play voice of the University of Portland’s men’s basketball program for 23 years and the Linfield College football program for the past seven seasons, died of heart failure on Sunday, Nov. 29. He was 71.

Johnson’s sports broadcasting career spanned six decades, beginning at Portland television station KATU in 1969. He spent time as sports director and news reporter at KXL radio, was general manager and operations director for the Oregon Radio News Network, and worked five years as director of communications for Peter Jacobsen Productions, which annually managed the Fred Meyer Challenge golf tournament.

In addition to Portland, he served as the basketball play-by-play voice at various times throughout his career with the Oregon, Linfield, Lewis & Clark and Sonoma State University. He also called radio and television for the Portland Trail Blazers from 1974-76. Johnson’s football play-by-play experience also included time with Oregon, Portland State and Lewis & Clark College.

Sadly, Johnson’s most recent broadcasts came within days his death. He called his final Portland basketball game on Nov. 24 and his last Linfield football game Nov. 28, a 38-22 NCAA playoff victory over Cortland State (N.Y.).

At University of Portland, Johnson was voice of the Pilots men’s basketball program for a total of 23 seasons over three different stints starting in 1978. He hosted the weekly Portland Pilots Coaches Show on 910 AM (KMTT) and was behind the microphone during Portland’s run to the 1996 NCAA Tournament.

“Bill was a very valued member of the Portland Pilots athletic family,” said Buzz Stroud, associate athletic director at UP and a 1971 Linfield alumnus. “He had a wonderful touch and special relationship with the students, coaches and administrators he interviewed, and worked with. I will miss him very much, not only as a colleague but a great friend.”

“Bill was a great radio play-by-play broadcaster but he was an even better person,” said UP director of athletics Scott Leykam. “He cared deeply about the University of Portland, but more importantly, he cared about people. He fostered relationships with players, coaches, staff members, and fans that went well beyond an interview or conversation. Bill always appreciated getting to know the student-athletes and often asked more about their lives off the court than what happened on the court. He will be greatly missed.”

In 2009, Johnson filled in for Darrell Aune, calling the play-by-play of Linfield’s 2004 national championship victory over Mary Hardin-Baylor. He also announced one season of Linfield basketball before migrating to central California where he worked as a radio station news director in Sonora.

With Linfield, Johnson became known throughout the McMinnville community as the athletic department’s sponsorship marketing representative. He helped pioneer Linfield’s multi-media marketing program, combining sponsorship elements of radio, print, video and electronic display advertising. He spent considerable time in the community cultivating relationships with McMinnville area businesses.

“Bill took our athletic marketing to a new level that provided us with much greater outreach to the McMinnville community, our alumni and fans,” said Linfield director of athletics Scott Carnahan ’73. He became part of the Linfield family and his friendly personality and vision for our marketability enhanced our athletic department immensely.

“Bill was always very generous when it came to praising other people,” said his Linfield broadcast color analyst Dave Hansen. “I appreciated his positive point of view. He would often go out of his way to be effusive other praising other folks. He was a man of great faith.”

Johnson enjoyed getting to know coaches, student-athletes and fans of the Linfield program.

“Bill especially enjoyed interviewing players on the team,” said Hansen. “He never met a player didn’t think highly about. That’s the one element of the broadcast I think he probably enjoyed the most.”

Johnson connected with the business community on a personal level, also.

“Bill always knew how to put together a package that worked well for promoting our business,” said Tom McFadden, a 1980 Linfield graduate who runs an accounting firm in McMinnville. “Being associated with the Linfield athletic programs and having our company’s advertisement in the weekly game program gives me great joy.”

Bill Johnson is survived by his wife, Laurie.

“Linfield athletics has benefited from his association and friendship with all our staff and coaches. He will be tremendously missed,” said Carnahan. “He adopted us and his pride and love for our athletic department and in particular for Linfield football was always present. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Laurie, his family and friends.”

Johnson’s passing will be recognized with pregame tributes and moments of silence Saturday before Linfield hosts Mary Hardin-Baylor in a football playoff game on at noon and when the University of Portland hosts Boise State later that day at 7 p.m. in the Chiles Center.

A memorial service honoring Johnson will be scheduled at a later date.

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Re: Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

Post by Geezaldinho on Mon Nov 30, 2015 6:17 pm

So sad, my sympathies to Laurie and the family.

Bill always seemed to be able to connect the players to UP fans on his broadcasts., and that was special.

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Re: Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

Post by DJ Sherman on Mon Nov 30, 2015 6:40 pm

Wow.

So knowledgeable and welcoming.  Catching up with him was always a highlight of attending road games.

He will be greatly missed.

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Re: Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

Post by DoubleDipper on Mon Nov 30, 2015 7:39 pm

Having had a number of road trip beers and meals with Bill over the last 19 years, I can tell you that Bill was just as good a man as he was a broadcaster, and never did I hear an unkind word about him.

Bill genuinely cared for UP student-athletes and was always supportive of the coaching staff and UP in general.....hard to believe it was just six nights ago we bid each other a Happy Thanksgiving, and now he's gone.

None of us are irreplaceable, but no one will ever be greater public supporter of UP basketball than Bill.

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Re: Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

Post by PilotNut on Mon Nov 30, 2015 8:14 pm

I am at a loss for words about this... so sudden a loss.  My condolences and thoughts are with Bill's family and friends.  

Here is a link to the Oregonian article, which is essentially the same as the UP release: LINK

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Re: Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

Post by KTodd on Mon Nov 30, 2015 8:49 pm

Received a call from Jason this morning, we talked for 30 minutes. Brutal stuff, sadness and reality for him. It was only a week ago that he was playing HORSE with Bill's grandkids prior to the game and gave Laurie a hug. He truly enjoyed the pre-game bantor with Bill and road trip stories.

Bill was an awesome man and I appreciate his friendship he showed Jason and our family. Absolutely honored to have him in our lives.

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Re: Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

Post by Dean Murdoch on Mon Nov 30, 2015 10:42 pm

DoubleDipper wrote:Having had a number of road trip beers and meals with Bill over the last 19 years, I can tell you that Bill was just as good a man as he was a broadcaster, and never did I hear an unkind word about him.

I never got to meet Bill - there was a different play-by-play guy when I was at UP - but you could just tell that even more importantly, you'd likely never hear an unkind word *from* Bill.

A great supporter of the program and a talented play-by-play voice, and he'll be greatly missed. I throughly enjoyed his style and the way he would call a basketball game. Delivery was almost Vin Scully-ish with the way he'd be able to interject with a yarn about a player's schooling or personal life and tie it into the game.

Today is a huge loss for UP's basketball program.

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Re: Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

Post by pilotdad1 on Tue Dec 01, 2015 10:10 pm

I have plenty of great memories from the 4 years spent with the UP basketball team but none more prominant than the times spent visiting with Bill. I cant say enough about the true and genuine character that Bill displayed and the obvious pride he had in the players, staff, and administration at the University of Portland.

I am truly blessed for all the time I was able to spend with Bill and Laurie and our family is stunned that he wont be on the radio this week.

RIP Bill

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Re: Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

Post by NoPoNeighbor on Wed Dec 02, 2015 11:06 pm

I sure missed hearing Bill's voice on my radio when I tuned in for the post-game show after tonight's game. I always loved his interviews with the coaches and players. He was clearly so tickled to get to chat with the young men on the team, and to let them know that he was their biggest fan.

I hope that the athletic department is able to compile a "greatest hits" compilation of his calls over the years. What a loss for the entire Pilots family. I'm sure glad that The Purple could pull out a win for Bill tonight.

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Re: Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

Post by Geezaldinho on Thu Dec 03, 2015 1:08 am

It should be noted that the PSU folks did a tribute to Bill before the game.

It was a nice community gesture.

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Re: Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

Post by newpilotfan on Thu Dec 03, 2015 7:45 am

The news of Bill's passing hit like a punch in the gut. He was always warm, caring and kind. It's heart-wrenching to think that I will never again hear his voice on the radio or have another post-game chat with him about the good old days of WCC basketball. There are few people that genuinely make the world a better place. Bill Johnson was one of those people and I'm happy to have known him.

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Re: Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

Post by PilotNut on Thu Dec 03, 2015 11:07 am

Geezaldinho wrote:It should be noted that the PSU folks did a tribute to Bill before the game.

It was a nice community gesture.

A classy move by PSU... That's great.

On the radio broadcast last night they mentioned that UP will do a tribute prior to the BSU game Saturday night, and they are putting together a collection of some Bill's highlights... that should be great. Hopefully that will be available online afterward for all to hear--especially since so many of his fans listen from a distance and will not be able to be in attendance.

Bill often called the Pilots "The Purple", so hopefully there will be a lot of that color worn in the stands.


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Re: Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

Post by DoubleDipper on Thu Dec 03, 2015 12:05 pm

At some point, probably before Christmas, there will be a service for Bill on campus at the Chapel of Christ the Teacher.

More info to follow....

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Re: Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

Post by Geezaldinho on Thu Dec 03, 2015 2:19 pm

The delay is to allow Linfield football folks to participate.

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Re: Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

Post by DoubleDipper on Wed Dec 30, 2015 12:43 pm

The memorial service for Bill is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 5 @ 4 in the Chapel of Christ the Teacher on the UP campus.

A reception will be held following the service at the Bauccio Commons....both are open to the public.

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Re: Sad news: RIP Bill Johnson

Post by DoubleDipper on Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:47 am

Don't forget.....Bill's service is today at 4 o'clock in the Chapel of Christ the Teacher on campus....reception to follow.

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