FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The Memorial Coliseum ice that Bob Chase emceed so many memories on was quieter Tuesday, and his booth in the Komets press box empty and glowing orange.
The fans were there, though, along with loved ones and so many friends.
The community at large came Tuesday to the Memorial Coliseum ice to pay their respects and celebrate Chase, the legendary Komets broadcaster who died Thanksgiving morning at the age of 90. With Chase’s casket at center ice, and some of his memorabilia gathered over 63 seasons of calling Komet hockey sitting on either side, those who knew him laughed and cried and remembered.
“I was in the 6th grade and listened to Bob Chase,” said Gary Chunn. “That’s what I did every night after I did my studies.”
That was in 1960. Chunn said after the first time listening to Chase announce the Komets game he was hooked.
“I could see the game,” he said. “Through my ears I could see the game. You could just about tell when a goal was going to be scored by the way he was announcing it. He got surprised sometimes, but not much.”
Chunn’s story echoed so many fans who came to say their goodbyes.
“We share his love of this community with so many people,” said Kurt Wallenstein, son of Bob Chase. “Then we have them come here and reciprocate it. [They] share stories with me.”
Fans knew him as Bob Chase. Kurt Wallenstein, though, knew him as Dad.
“The thing I want people to remember most about my father is his love of family. That was everything to him,” said Wallenstein.
Wallenstein said even in his final moments on Thanksgiving day, he was surrounded by family.
“Everybody came together to say our last goodbye with him,” he said. “And then he passed.”
Photos: Remembering Bob Chase
Bob Chase was on the Mount Rushmore of Fort Wayne celebrities, though his charismatic personality and humble, always-a-friend demeanor would never allow it.
The Negaunee, Michigan, native and U.S. Navy veteran was the iconic voice of the Komets for more than six decades. He called 12 regular season titles and nine league championships over the course of more than 4,500 Komet games.
His No. 40 hangs in the Komets rafters, raised after his 40th season in 1993. He was inducted into the Komets Hall of Fame in 2003 during his 50th season as Komet broadcaster. He owns a Sagamore of the Wabash Award, a Key to the Fort and is a Indiana Sportswriters and Sports Broadcasters Hall of Famer.
Those achievements pad a resume, but Chase was more than years and trophies and wins and losses.
Komet President Michael Franke called him “a father figure.” Komet general manager David Franke? “The John Wayne of Fort Wayne and the hockey broadcasting world.”
Fort Wayne Komet Hockey Club CEO Stephen Franke said Chase was simply “a good man who made life a little more special for the rest of us.”
Did he ever.