Trail Blazers mourn the death of broadcaster founder Bill Schonley

Portland, Ore. (January 21, 2023)Trail Blazers Founding broadcaster Bill Schonley He passed away on Saturday, January 21, at the age of 93.

Schonelly was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania, the eldest child of Walter and Juanita Schonelly. He served in the Marine Corps, hosting a sports show for Armed Forces Radio Abroad. Schonley then continued his broadcasting career in Seattle with radio station KVI and as the voice of the Seattle Totems of the Western Hockey League. His extensive sports broadcasting experience also included University of Washington football, Seattle Angels baseball, the Oakland Seals in the National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball in Seattle before joining the Trail Blazers.

Team founder Harry Glickman hired Schonley as the sixth employee in the organization’s history and quickly commissioned him to put together a radio network to introduce the Oregonians to the Trail Blazers’ organization. With a gift for creative enthusiasm, he coined many catchphrases during his time with the team, none greater than “Rip City,” which is now synonymous with the team and the city of Portland.

He served as the team’s play-by-voice for nearly 30 years, calling more than 2,500 games including the team’s amazing championship in 1977 and exciting tours throughout the 1990s. Schonley maintained a streak of contact games throughout his 30-year career that only came to a halt in 1982-83 when he walked away to recover from heart surgery. In 1999, Schonely was inducted into the Oregon State Sports Hall of Fame for broadcasting and in 2012, he received the Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for his contributions to the game as an outstanding broadcaster.

Schonley highly valued his connections within the community and, beginning in 2003, served as an ambassador for the Trail Blazers, supporting the team’s outreach mission while maintaining connections with the Rip City community and appearing on numerous radio and television shows. He retired from the organization at the conclusion of the 2021-22 NBA season after more than 50 years with the Trail Blazers.

“The Mayor of Rip City” has supported many charitable causes, notably the American Heart Association and the Providence Center for Children, which in 2009 established the “Bell Children’s Fund” to honor his longstanding dedication and compassion for the medically vulnerable children who call the center home.

Schonley’s wife of 31 years, Dottie Schonley, was by his side when he passed away.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of legendary Trail Blazers announcer Bill Schonelly,” he said. Dewayne Hankins, Chief Commercial Officer, Trail Blazers. Our hearts are with his wife, Dottie, and the entire Schoneley family during this difficult time. Bill was a warm, engaging, sharp person—always ready for a joke, stern remark, or sweet note. His imprint on the organization, Oregon State and all sports broadcasting will be felt for generations. He loved no one. Rip City is more than Bill, and we are all forever grateful for his contributions to the community.”

“Schonz has been a cornerstone of the organization since day one. He has been the best Trail Blazers voice,” the Trail Blazers said. Trail Blazers Alumni Ambassador Terry Porter. “He was someone Blazers fans grew up listening to for many, many generations. His voice will be missed and his presence will be missed but his legacy will not be forgotten. He is intertwined with every part of this organization.”

In honor of Shunli, there will be a special service and a public celebration of life. Details will be provided at a later time. In lieu of flowers, donations are being asked to be made to Providence Children’s Center and the American Heart Association in Bill’s honor.

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