FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Legendary Fort Wayne Komets broadcaster Bob Chase passed away at 2:40 a.m. ET on Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016, at the age of 90. Chase completed 63 seasons as the voice of the Komets radio-rinkside last year after first arriving in Fort Wayne in 1953.
Chase hailed from Negaunee, Mich. where he was born Jan. 22, 1926. He grew up in Marquette, Michigan and after high school joined the U.S. Navy where he served from 1943-1947. Upon his discharge from the Navy, Bob entered Northern Michigan University at Marquette and graduated in 1952. While in college, Bob started his radio career in Marquette in 1949.
Chase moved to Fort Wayne to begin his radio career with WOWO AM 1190 in 1953 which included broadcasting Komet hockey games starting with the 1953-54 season. "He was the voice of Komet hockey my entire life," Stephen Franke, CEO of the Fort Wayne Komet Hockey Club said. "He knew more about the history of Komet hockey than anyone. He was a good man who made life a little more special for the rest of us."
The Komets retired the number 40 in Chase’s honor as he celebrated his 40th season behind the Fort Wayne microphone in 1993. Bob was inducted into the Komets Hall of Fame in 2003 in honor of his 50th season as Komet broadcaster. "Bob Chase was Komet hockey," Komet President Michael Franke said. "He put Fort Wayne and the Komets on the map with his deep voice penetrating 28 states and half of Canada on WOWO radio. More than anything I will miss him. He was a father figure to us all. Things will never be the same."
"This is a very sad day in Komet history and Fort Wayne history. We have lost the John Wayne of Fort Wayne and the hockey broadcasting world," Komet general manager David Franke said.
"We will never again hear his play-by-play call of Komet hockey or the wise and respected voice of WOWO radio. I will always be grateful for all I learned from Bob. He gave me the opportunity to work with the Komets during the 1988-89 season and his words of wisdom, support and guidance will always be with me. Bob Chase is a legend in every sense of the word and we will miss him dearly."
During Chase's extended career with the Komets he witnessed and called 12 regular season titles and nine league championships over the course of more than 4,500 Komet games. During 2014-15 Chase celebrated the calling of his 500th playoff game.
Besides his accomplishments with the Komets, Chase was inducted into the Indiana Broadcasters Association Pioneers Hall of Fame in 2000, was given the Sagamore of the Wabash Award by Indiana Governor Frank O’Bannon in 2001, was a member of the Baer Field Speedway Hall of Fame (2002), was named distinguished Hoosier by governor O’Bannon in 2003, inducted into the Indiana Sportswriters and Sports Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2004, inducted into the Indiana High School Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006, was a member of the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame (2009), in 2010 received the Mad Anthony’s Red Coat and in 2013 was presented the Key to the Fort by Fort Wayne’s Mayor Tom Henry.
Also, Chase was named a recipient of the prestigious Lester Patrick Award in a ceremony held in Dallas, Texas Oct. 15, 2012. The Lester Patrick Trophy has been presented annually by the NHL and USA Hockey since 1966 to honor one’s contribution to ice hockey in the United Sates. Most recently, Chase was named the ECHL’s Broadcaster of the Year for 2013-14.
Chase is survived by his wife Muriel, children Michael, Kurt, Karin and David and many grandchildren. Arrangements are pending.
Note: Starting at 11am today WOWO Radio AM 1190 will air a tribute to the life of Bob Chase. It will run continuously throughout the day. Also, the Komets will present a video tribute to Bob Chase prior to the opening faceoff of tonight's home game against the Kalamazoo Wings at 7:30pm.