FILE - In this file photo released by the University of Georgia Athletic Department, the football team's radio announcer, Larry Munson, is seen on Oct. 2, 2004, during a broadcast from Athens, Ga. Munson died Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011. He was 89. A university statement said he died at his Athens home of complications from pneumonia, according to his son, Michael. (AP Photo/University of Georgia, File)
ATHENS — Although death silenced legendary radio veteran Larry Munson on Sunday, his voice will continue to echo in the memories of his many friends and followers.
Munson, who was best known as the voice of the University of Georgia football team for more than four decades before his retirement in 2008, died Sunday at his Athens home with complications from pneumonia, family members said. He was 89 and had enjoyed a broadcasting career that stretched more than 60 years and spanned eight decades.
An avowed outdoorsman all his life, Munson had a particular affinity for the Mansfield area, where he fished for years with his longtime friend David Hays, and he was a frequent visitor to the East Metro area as a speaker.
Although he hadn't had contact with Munson for years, local author and educator Darrell Huckaby helped add to the Munson legend in his novels "Need Two" and "Need Four," both humorous road-trip yarns about the Georgia Bulldogs' football fortunes.
Huckaby said his reaction to Munson's death is not unlike the thoughts of many who spent Saturdays in the fall hanging on the broadcaster's every hoarse word.
"Munson was the heartbeat of UGA football for so long," Huckaby said. "People who weren't even born at the time know 'Run, Lindsay, run.' For two generations of UGA fans, Munson wrote the script for the history of the game. And I'm sure an unborn generation will also one day be quoting his calls, which I think is the biggest testament to what he meant to UGA."
Former State Sen. John Douglas was such a big Munson fan that he'd get his mother to place a radio near the phone so he could listen to the Bulldogs' games from far away.
"When I went in the Army in 1977, there wasn't the widespread broadcast of games on TV like there is today this was really before cable TV," Douglas, a UGA season-ticket holder since 1983, said. "When I came back from Germany in 1980, I was stationed in El Paso, Texas, and that was my first season back for college football.
"On Saturdays, I'd call my mother in Decatur and she'd put the phone on the radio and I'd sit there for three hours listening. I remember the big win that year was over Florida, and the Bulldogs went on to win the national championship. I'd listen to the first half, then take a 30-minute break for halftime, then call back and hear the second half. And that's when long distance wasn't cheap. It would cost me $40-$50 every week. And I'd sit with the phone in my ear for three hours and listen to Munson call the games ... He was a great guy, and we're going to miss him."
Mansfield Mayor William Cocchi was a frequent fishing friend of Munson's at Hays' lake, and he said Monday he loved to listen to Munson wax on the good old days.
"I just liked to be around him," said Cocchi, whose 19-year tenure as Mansfield's mayor ends early next year. "He'd tell stories about the old times. I always looked forward to fishing with him he used to borrow my boat a lot. He caught a nice 10-pound bass down here. Larry was a super guy, one of a kind. I kind of loved that guy."
Cocchi added that Munson called him "the game warden" and frequently referred to him as such ("I'm going fishing with the game warden in Mansfield this weekend") while on the air at WSB-AM.
"He used to talk on the radio about a service station down here that he said made the best hamburgers in Georgia," Cocchi said. "And people came from all over Georgia to that service station to try those hamburgers."