Two great, smooth voices from the past on the South Coast were silenced in recent days.
One of them, Ed Keim, was recognizable to anyone who regularly listened to Marshfield High School sports on the radio a couple of decades back.
The other, Jerry Stonebreaker, was probably only recognizable to people who worked at The World or attended the Faith Lutheran Church in North Bend.
Stony died a little over a week ago, bringing back a flood of memories from my earliest days at The World a quarter century ago.
Ed died Sunday morning, bringing back a separate flood of memories from my earliest days as sports editor.
Both were great people from another era who had served in the military and who I was fortunate to get to know a little bit.
Stony worked at The World for more than 30 years in a number of newsroom capacities, as a reporter and photographer and later an editor. When I started, he was responsible for picking the content for just about all the inside pages in the front section of the paper every day.
He was always in the office before me back then, happily humming away while planning the pages.
It was a much different era for newspapers. We hadn’t yet gone to full desktop pagination. Instead, we printed out the stories with their headlines and a separate crew ran the copy through a hot wax machine and pasted it onto a page, using a hand-drawn “dummy” from the copy editor to make sure the stories got into the right spots on each page.
Carl Clemens, one of the few remaining coworkers from back then, remembered how precise Stony was at picking the lengths for the stories, something Carl and the other paste-up people appreciated.
Stony retired a few years after I started, but I still saw him occasionally because he spent part of his time volunteering at the food bank just across the street from our office.
What I will always remember is Stony’s smile and friendly demeanor — and that deep voice. Somehow, I didn’t learn until last week that he was a regular in the choir at Faith Lutheran. I would have loved to hear that voice singing the church hymns.
I’ll remember some of those same traits about Ed, who had an easy-going voice that was perfect for broadcasting baseball, his specialty throughout a long career in the industry.
While Stony grew up in Oregon, Ed found his way here from halfway across the country, starting in Chicago and, after his time in World War II, starting a broadcasting career in Texas.
Ron Nance, one of his closest friends, shared some of his background with me this week and said Ed went from the town of Jasper, Texas, to Crowley, Louisiana, where he became the broadcaster for a minor league baseball team.
Ed went on to become a sports broadcaster at Idaho State University before eventually making his way to Coos Bay about 1960.
He started broadcasting Marshfield sports in the 1960s for KOOS and ended up working with Ron on Bandon sports when KBBR picked up an FM station some two decades later.
Ed also ran a business, Western Real Estate Loans and Investments. He was honored in that industry one year and another year was named City Councilor of the Year for Eastside before it merged with Coos Bay.
When Marshfield started KMHS and began broadcasting baseball, Ed was back in the Pirates’ fold.
Ron said that was his biggest joy in life.
“He absolutely loved high school sports,” Ron said. “He had done higher levels. Something he used to say is ‘Nothing but nothing is as special as high school sports.’
“He absolutely loved watching the kids commiserating with the coaches. It meant the world to him to be able to do the high school games.”
And he was marvelous at calling baseball.
“He had the mellow resonance,” Ron recalled. “And he used it so effectively. He never got too excited.”
Marshfield honored Ed by putting him in its Hall of Fame back in 2008.
“I think I would say Ed is legendary, if not a legend,” Ron said. “I don’t know how else to say it. He was just something else.”
Ed worked until his mid-80s. His 95th birthday was in August.
The public is invited to his memorial service, which will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 13, at Nelson’s Bay Area Mortuary.
Ron plans to make sure everybody at the service remembers Ed’s catch phrase, which he used at the end of every baseball broadcast: “Ed Keim, rounding third and heading home.”
I can still hear him saying it at the end of a game, just like I can still hear Stony humming in the early morning office air. Two treasures I am glad I got to experience.