A prairie sportswriter once referred to Bill Good Sr. as ``that walking cathedral.'' That's not bad. To all us shorties, Good towered like the cathedral at Reims and when he hauled on his rope-sized vocal cords, deep-pitched bells rang out across the country.


It's not too much of a stretch to suggest that, in the '40s, '50s and '60s, Lorne Greene and Good had the most recognizable voices in Canada. Greene read the national news of CBC Radio. Curling, the roaring game, made Good a national celebrity. As working press or a special guest, Good attended 48 Brier championships.


For decades, his cello-section voice rolled into every city and village in every province that had a four-sheet rink and a CBC relay. When it was too warm to curl, he covered the Canadian Open Golf Championship, not as part of a stationary team sitting up in a tower, but walking the course with a 100-pound power pack strapped to his back.


That voice was stilled Tuesday when Good died in West Vancouver at the age of 77.


He left behind a hefty set of credentials: memberships in the Canada curling and Canadian Football League halls of fame, an ACTRA Award for excellence in broadcasting and an enormous circle of close friends, admiring colleagues and down-and-outers he picked up and dusted off.


The last 10 years had been a rough patch for the big guy from Wilkie, Sask. Some of us thought he retired too soon and it was in inactivity, rather than continuing his tiring travel schedule, that Good's health began to deteriorate. Severe dental problems caused him continuous pain; heavy smoking most of his life brought on emphysema. Five months ago, a massive heart seizure hospitalized him. But the irony was that, the unhealthier he got, the cheerier he got. Good used to be a classic hypochondriac. But when I visited him in Lions Gate Hospital in late January, he said his near-death experience had rearranged his priorities. In fact, he cackled that his persistent complaining about the hospital food had resulted in him being given menu approval for his whole floor.


I knew him for almost 40 years, took road-trips, walks and a hundred coffee breaks with him, listening to that voice. Walking down the streets of small Interior towns, it was never a surprise when people stopped him and said, wonderingly, ``That voice! You're Bill Good, aren't you?'' He loved it. In the bad old days of the B.C. Lions, he habitually kicked off his post-game broadcast by demanding, ``There's only one thing I want to know: Are the Bombers that good or are we that bad?''


Prior to his hospitalization, Good still walked the West Vancouver sea wall, trailing his portable oxygen bottle, had a permanent chair at what was called the Senate Table at B.C. Place football games, with veteran colleagues Jim Coleman, Jim Kearney and Jim Cox.


The magisterial voice was the mark of his radio career, his hands were the mark of a working newspaperman. All those years of pounding stiff typewriter keys in frigid rinks had popped the knuckles of both hands. He told me once, ``I'd shake hands with you, but we'd have to call in a plumber to get untangled.''


So now he is gone, a great broadcaster, a Canadian original, devoted family man, a friend to those who needed a friend. I'm tempted to say the bells of St. Bill have been stilled. But I just know I'd hear a rasping voice, asking, ``Was I that good, or are you that bad a writer?''



BC Radio History