For years, anybody who turned the radio to KWNO-AM knew the voice of Charles Williams, who brought play-by-play descriptions of thousands of high school, college and amateur sporting events to residents of Winona and southern Minnesota.
He was the radio voice of the Winona High School Winhawks, the Winona Cotter High School Ramblers, the St. Mary's College Cardinals and the Winona State University Warriors, calling more than 4,000 football, boys' and men's basketball, and baseball games during his 44 years behind the microphone.
"He was proud of being able to broadcast so families could hear about their children playing," said his wife of 62 years, Claire. "He was gone six or seven nights a week, but he just loved it."
Williams always ended his broadcasts with his signature sign-off. It included a salute to his wife, who listened to all the games: "Good night, all. Good night, Claire."
Williams died Saturday at his Winona home from complications of a pacemaker implantation and a recent bout with pneumonia. He was 89.
His first play-by-play assignment for KWNO was the 1946 Minnesota State Catholic High School Boys' Basketball Tournament. For the next four decades, he called games from fields and gyms across southern Minnesota, in addition to recording more than 30,000 editions of "Mike Side of Sports," a program in which he interviewed athletes and coaches, and gave previews of games, relayed stats and passed along sports tidbits.
Local sports fans honored him with a "Chuck Williams Recognition Night" in 1986, and he was inducted into the halls of fame at Winona Cotter, Winona High School and St. Mary's College.
His broadcasting career started after he graduated from St. Mary's, where he played baseball and earned a bachelor's degree in English. He was a sportswriter for the Winona Daily Republican when he was offered a job as a disc jockey at KWNO.
In the 1940s, he hosted a music program called "Willie's Wax Works." He took two years off to serve in the Army Signal Corps during World War II, then returned to the station and began his sports broadcasting career. He served as the station's general manager from 1961 to 1985.
After leaving the station, he wrote a column called "From the Sidelines" for the Winona Post, and was a sports editor and staff mentor for Hiawatha Broadband Communications Inc. in Winona.
Williams was a longtime member of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Winona. He served one term on the County Board, his wife said.
In addition to his wife, Williams is survived by three daughters, Mary Bambenek of Winona, Patricia Malay of Burnsville and Elizabeth Williams of Phoenix; a son, Thomas, of Winona, and six grandchildren.
Services have been held.