From the airwaves to chamber, Templeton leaves a lasting legacy (UPDATE)
By KARI BLURTON
Many Hays residents still remember waking up to BoB Templeton’s “Hello, world!” as a morning radio disc jockey on KAYS-AM in the early 1960s.
The memory is one of several Bob Schmidt, chairman and retired president/CEO of Eagle Communications, recounted as he shared memories of his former colleague and friend.
BoB (yes two capital Bs) Templeton died at age 80 Thursday morning of heart failure at Hays Medical Center.
Schmidt laughed as recalled Templeton’s old “Hello, world!” catchphrase, broadcast from a 250-watt radio station in Hays, as a perfect example of his friend’s personality.
“He was a fun guy, very infectious personality, outgoing, just a fun person to know,” he said.
According to Templeton’s daughter, Laura Lechner, 56, Wichita, Schmidt was driving through Kearney, Neb., in 1963 when he heard Templeton’s “amazing” voice on the radio and offered him a job, which brought Templeton and his wife, Ruth, to Hays.
Lechner said Templeton left KAYS in 1967 to accept a job in Oshkosh, Wis., as general manager of a brand-new radio station.
But when Schmidt offered him the chance to come back to Hays as general manager of KAYS in 1973, Templeton and his family were happy to move back to Kansas.
Templeton’s youngest daughter, Kari Beetch, 51, Abilene, said the voice that first caught Schmidt’s attention is one of many qualities she will miss about her dad.
“He had an absolutely amazing voice — perfect. He was a great communicator,” she said.
Beetch said the man behind the the voice was “amazing” as well, adding he was a loving and supportive dad who, along with their mother, who died in 2012, taught his daughters to live as they did — “to do everything we did to the best of our ability and never do anything halfway.”
In fact, it was her father’s positive attitude that earned him the nickname, “Grandpa Terrific” to his seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, Beetch said.
“If they or anyone asked him ‘How are you doing today?’ the answer was always, ‘Terrific!’ ” she said.
Lechner echoed her sister’s sentiments.
“He was very caring, loving and supportive,” she said. “His job kept him busy because he loved broadcasting. He worked with a lot of people and helped them go on to do great things.”
In the late 1980s, Templeton chose to take his communication skills in a new direction and accepted a job as director of the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce in the late 1980s.
“Growing up, I always got the impression he was well-liked and had a lot of friends. He was — and I mean this in the best way — a big fish in a small pond, but to me he was just my dad. I loved him and respected him,” said Lechner, recalling the time she wrecked her car on Main Street as a teenager. “He was there before the police were because everyone knew him so someone saw me and called him.”
“BoB was a guy who liked to be in front and liked to be a leader,” said Eagle Communications President and CEO Gary Shorman.
Shorman said Templeton represented rural broadcasters on the National Association of Broadcasters Board of Directors and as President of the Kansas Association of Broadcasters during his time at KAYS.
Lechner fondly remembers “all the trips we got to take” across the country as her dad served in those roles.
“Broadcasting was a big part of his life,” she said.
Both sisters offered their gratitude to the people “who helped take care of him” for the last 10 years when Templeton’s health and mobility started to decline following back surgery.
“There are no words for the gratitude I feel for the people who dedicated their time and stepped in to help look after him,” Beetch said.
Beetch said there were too many friends to name but in particular they wanted to publicly thank Randy and Sari Reynolds, Curt Coup and the Rev. Jerry Jones.
UPDATE: Funeral services for BoB Templeton, 80, will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at Trinity Lutheran Church. Brock’s Funeral Chapel of Hays is in charge of arrangements.