L ong-time Kootenay broadcaster, Burt Decaire passed away Friday, March 24, at his home in Cranbrook, with his wife of 31 years, Deann, by his side. He was 76 years of age.
Decaire had a long and storied career in radio in the Kootenays, which began at CJAT radio in Trail in the 1960s. He is still on record in the Trail City Archives as a long-time voice for the Western International Hockey League.
He joined the staff at EK Radio in Cranbrook in the early ‘70s, when he was hired to replace Ken White as Sports Director for the station. Although Decaire did a regular DJ shift, hundreds of live on-location broadcasts, and voiced thousands of commercials in his tenure on the radio, he will be remembered most by many, for his prowess as a hockey broadcaster.
Without question he was the best hockey commentator I ever had the pleasure of working with. Soon after he arrived in Cranbrook we began working as a team, broadcasting hundreds of games for the Western International Hockey League’s Cranbrook Royals and Kimberley Dynamiters. We had the privilege of being part of three Allan Cup Finals here in the Kootenays, in 1974, 1977-78 and ‘81-82. Admittedly, we didn’t realize until much later in life that we played a role in an important bit of Kootenay hockey history that would be documented for all time.
Decaire was a student of the game of hockey and his mastery of the English language was second to none. His entertaining style, whether doing play by play or colour, made every game sound interesting and exciting for thousands of fans during the winter months, right across the EK Radio Network.
We broadcast many a playoff game for the KIJHL’S Cranbrook Colts as well, watching them win a record setting 11 league championships and many Cyclone Taylor Cups as BC Champions.
In the ‘70s, Burt was the author of a very popular sports column in the Kootenay Advertiser, simply entitled “Dak’s Diggings”. His really close friends always called him by his nickname the “Dak”.
Burt Decaire not only loved hockey, but boxing, football and in particular, baseball. Naturally, the Blue Jays were his favourite professional team, but he had a true passion for softball/fastball as well.
He formed and managed the Media Maulers fastball team, which originally, was a combination of radio and newspaper employees, and entered the team in the Cranbrook Men’s Bush League. For 16 years I had the good fortune to play right behind him on second base as he threw his famous “Fuzzball” change-up from the pitching mound. He was a fiery competitor and took great pride in being able to field a competitive team each year.
He retired from the radio business in 2002, but he will be fondly remembered as one of the truly all-time great characters that ever graced the airwaves here in the Kootenays. He was talented, honest, reliable, trustworthy, and had an outstanding sense of humour, and because of those characteristics, he made countless numbers of friends along the way. I know I was always very proud to tell anyone that he was my colleague AND my best friend.
A Celebration of Life service for friends and family will be announced in the near future.