WICHITA, KS – Less than a month after it was announced he was fighting congestive heart failure, Fort Wayne Komets hockey icon Bob Chase passed away early this morning.
Chase was 90 years old.
The news was first reported by the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel.
Chase hailed from Negaunee, Michigan, where he was born January 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.
“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.”
Chase was the voice of Komets hockey on WOWO radio for generations of fans, being behind the microphone for 63 seasons.
The team honored Chase by putting his name in the rafters at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. During his tenure, the Komets have gone through five sets of owners, 25 coaches, more than 1,000 players and 70 different opposing teams. Of the Komets’ 532 playoff games during their 64-year history, Chase has called 526 of them. Of the Komets’ 4,890 regular-season games, Chase has likely called around 4,500 of those.
He called every all-star game in the International Hockey League until the Komets left the league in 1999, and also mentored the voice of hockey in America today, Mike Emrick. Chase was named ECHL Broadcaster of the Year after the 2013-14 season, adding to similar honors from the International Hockey League, the United Hockey League, and Central Hockey League.
Earlier this year, Emrick paid tribute to his teacher in this video essay:
Emrick, Chase and Robbie Irons called a Fort Wayne Komets/Evansville IceMen game in 2012. Here is a clip of that:
Chase won the Lester Patrick award from USA Hockey and the National Hockey League in 2012 for service to the sport in the United States. That year he was also given a key to the city by Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and was inducted into the Northern Michigan University Hall of Fame.
Outside of his hockey duties, Chase was a DJ and sports director for WOWO radio. He interviewed prominent figures such as Elvis Presley, A.J. Foyt, Bob Hope, and the late President Richard Nixon.
I had the honor of interviewing Bob in July 2015. During our chat, Chase describes growing up as a child of the Great Depression, his service to our country in World War II, his storied radio career outside the Komets hockey booth, some of the momentous moments in Komets history and the purpose radio serves in today’s culture.