By Dave Walsh, Cowboy State Daily
We lost a couple of true Wyoming legends over the last few weeks. These two icons who recently passed were exceptional in their chosen fields for many years and were even more impressive as genuinely kind and caring people.
I had the honor to meet both four decades ago. And the privilege to work with, and learn from, both George Kay and Joe Dowler for many of the past 40 years.
It was about this time of year, in 1982, when a young Walsh family came rolling into the Oil City, with a full U-Haul and full of excitement. I had taken a job at KVOC Radio in Casper, Wyoming, having never even been there.
Coming from a three-year stint in Salt Lake City and Ogden, Utah, this was a new opportunity in the Cowboy State. Here we were driving into a new town on CY Avenue to begin a new chapter in the crazy life of a radio play-by play man. I would be the Voice of the Wyoming Wildcatters, a first-year expansion team in the Continental Basketball Association.
And one of the first people I met was George Kay.
George was the sports director at KTWO Radio and Television. George had worked at KTWO for 15 years before we met and as the sports anchor on KTWO-TV, he was one of the most recognizable sports figures in the state.
George was right there on KTWO-TV each evening with news anchors Pete Williams, Susan Anderson, Charles Brown, and Tom Edwards. Doc Mueller did weather. And George Kay was the sports guy. The camera, and the viewers, loved George.
I would get to know George Kay quickly. He was easy to get to know, and we were running into each other often. George covered every Wildcatter home game, and many of the roadies too.
And in 1984, our working relationship took a big jump. First, in June, George asked me to join him at KTWO-TV and serve as the weekend sports anchor. Wow, what a huge opportunity! I started doing Saturday and Sunday newsblocks, the 5:30 p.m. and the 10:00 p.m. sports on KTWO-TV, with George Kay as my teacher and mentor.
It was just two months later, in August of 1984, when I was offered the best play-by-play job in radio. Another Wyoming icon by the name of Curt Gowdy, hired me as the play-by-play Voice of the Cowboys!
I would call my first two seasons of Cowboy games while still living in Casper and working at KVOC and KTWO-TV. And on many of the drives over the Basin, through Medicine Bow and Rock River, all the way to Laramie, I would enjoy the company of George Kay.
The drives home were even better, with long discussions about the Cowboy game we had just witnessed. A couple of middle-of-the-night drives back to Casper were delayed and made even longer during a post-game snowstorm out on Shirley Basin.
Three years later, the rights to broadcast Cowboy games went to KTWO. I was asked back to handle the play-by-play, and I would have a new partner in the radio booth. George Kay was the new color analyst. We would do 10 years of Cowboy football games together. George and I would do around 125 Cowboy game broadcasts together. So many enjoyable hours of airtime with one of the classiest gentlemen, and true legends, in Wyoming broadcasting. George Kay passed away on Feb. 13.
I met Joe Dowler in 1984. I had just been named the Voice of the Cowboys, and was attending a Cheyenne Quarterback Club meeting when I was introduced to the very successful and popular Cowboy wrestling head coach.
Coach Dowler had been Wyoming’s wrestling coach for 11 years by then and had won multiple Mountain Intercollegiate Wrestling Association and Western Athletic Conference team titles. Dowler would win 104 dual matches and coach 35 individual conference champions and two All-Americans at Wyoming.
The Walshes moved to Laramie in 1986 and Joe Dowler had retired from coaching to become associate athletics director and right-hand man to Athletic Director Paul Roach. Roach and Dowler would lead Wyoming Athletics to unprecedented success.
Joe was a great administrative leader in the Athletics Department as associate athletic director for 14 years, until 2001. Dowler would then initiate and coordinate the “W” Club for all UW athletic letter-winners. All told, as a coach and administrator, Joe Dowler would serve UW Athletics for 28 years, and was inducted into the UW Hall of Fame in 2005. Joe Dowler passed away last weekend.
George Kay and Joe Dowler were living legends who will be remembered and appreciated for a long time. These two classy family men, with Marge and Glenda by their sides and in full support, would achieve so much during their Wyoming careers. They would win the respect of untold numbers of Wyoming fans, including yours truly.
George…Joe…Rest in Peace.