By Robert Husseman • Sports Editor • 

Bill Johnson, Linfield radio voice, dies

William "Bill" Johnson, Linfield College's play-by-play voice for football games, died Sunday of heart failure, the university confirmed in a media release Monday night. Johnson was 71.

Johnson had worked Linfield football games since 2009 and also spent a season as the voice of Linfield men's basketball. He had called University of Portland men's basketball games for the past 23 seasons and had also served as a play-by-play voice for University of Oregon, Portland State University and Lewis & Clark College sports. Johnson's career in broadcasting began in 1969 at the Portland television station KATU.

Johnson was on the broadcast with color commentator Dave Hansen for Linfield's 38-22 victory over SUNY-Cortland in the NCAA Division III playoffs second-round contest Saturday, the last game he called. His last game for the Pilots was Nov. 24, a 97-65 win for U of P over Alcorn State. Johnson had missed Linfield's first-round NCAA D-III playoff game against Whitworth; Kevin Nelson made the call of the game with Hansen on color commentary.

“Bill was always very generous when it came to praising other people,” Hansen said in a media release. “I appreciated his positive point of view. He would often go out of his way to be effusive praising other folks. He was a man of great faith.

"Bill especially enjoyed interviewing players on the team. He never met a player didn't think highly about. That's the one element of the broadcast I think he probably enjoyed the most."

“Bill was a great radio play-by-play broadcaster but he was an even better person,” Portland director of athletics Scott Leykam said in a media release. “He cared deeply about the University of Portland, but more importantly, he cared about people. He fostered relationships with players, coaches, staff members, and fans that went well beyond an interview or conversation. Bill always appreciated getting to know the student-athletes and often asked more about their lives off the court than what happened on the court. He will be greatly missed.”

Linfield College is planning a moment of silence at the Wildcats' D-III quarterfinal game against Mary Hardin-Baylor, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 5, at noon. The school further announced that a memorial service will be planned following the Wildcats' football season.