Celebration of life held for longtime Trail Blazers announcer Bill Schonely
PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Veterans Memorial Coliseum was full of life Monday evening to celebrate the life and times of the late, great, Bill Schonely who passed away at the age of 93 in January.
FOX 12′s Nick Krupke and photojournalist Kevin Lund were inside the Trail Blazers’ public celebration of life, inside their old home, as friends of the Schonz paid their respects and had a few laughs in memory of the original voice in Rip City.
“As Bill Schonely made the decision to become the eyes of our world, he ultimately became the singer of the songs of our own,” said former Blazer Bill Walton, speaking Monday.
The voice, the name, the man -- the legend of Bill Schonely will ring through Rip City for years to come.
“Bill Schonely made people believe what we were doing was important,” said Walton. “Bill Schonely was able to humanize, personalize and immortalize us!”
As the original sound of the Blazers, Schonely called more than 2,500 games in 28 seasons with his baritone, one-of-a-kind delivery behind the mic.
“From the 70′s to his passing, he was without question the most recognized and beloved figure in the state of Oregon,” said former Blazer Chris Dudley.
The Schonz was so much more than just a hall-of-fame play-by-play broadcaster for the first professional team to arrive and thrive in Oregon.
“How lucky were we that day that Harry Glickman called him and asked him to be the voice of the Trail Blazers?” said former Blazer Terry Porter.
Bill Schonely was Trail Blazer basketball.
“Bill, of course, had the voice of God,” said Blazers’ play-by-play commentator Kevin Calabro.
Chronicling the Blazers’ lone NBA championship in 1977 and signaling that spirit around the state on the AM radio dial for Portland’s great teams of the late 80s and early 90s in the glass palace.
“We will miss you, my friend,” said Porter. “We’ll miss you on our radio in our cars and in our homes, and you have been an unbelievable gift to the city of Portland, to the state of Oregon, and to the NBA itself.”
The 93-year-old Marine Corps veteran grew up in Pennsylvania, but the home of Blazermania is where he and late wife Dottie remained and where bill tagged “Rip City.”
“It demanded gravity and it demanded weight and he was the man and he was the link to the team and he was the gatekeeper to the Blazers,” said Calabro.
The Schonz was a goodwill ambassador with the franchise until his retirement last spring.
“The first thing he said to me was, “you know why they call this place Rip City?” I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ve heard of that. I know they call it Rip City, And he was like, “Yeah, I made that up, That came from me,’” recounted Blazer Damian Lillard. “He spoke that life into me from day one and kind of put me in that type of history and to me that just showed what kind of pride he had to be a part of Rip City and being a part of this organization and he constantly showed it.”
A singer, a dancer, a father, a grandpa seven times over and forever-loving husband to Dottie.
“You know, we have seven wonders in this state and I guess as the state’s senior senator, I am allowed to have a scorebook too,” said Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. “To me, in our scorebook for Blazer fans, wherever they may be, the Schonz and Dottie to me are always gonna be our state’s 8th wonder.”
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