04/06/2015 3:27PM

Radio broadcaster Bill Garr dies


Bill Garr, a Southern California-based radio broadcaster whose shows included morning scratches, interviews, plus calls and results, died last week at the age of 98, according to his daughter, Jeannie Garr Roddy.

Garr had been retired for years and had been in poor health, preventing him from coming to the track he loved most, Santa Anita. It was from there where, in the pre-internet days, fans would tune in to Garr in the morning to hear that day’s scratches, tune in at midday for the daily double, and tune in at night for the call of the feature race, followed by a recap of the day’s results. He’d also host a call-in show on Saturday mornings, all for years on local station KIEV in Southern California.

Garr’s first live show from Santa Anita was broadcast on Dec. 26, 1959. For nearly four decades, he broadcast his show - a forerunner of today's racing shows - from Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, and Del Mar. He also worked  on local racing telecasts in the 1960s.

In addition to his exhaustive broadcast schedule, Garr was known for some of the corniest jokes at the racetrack, ones in which he took great delight in telling if only to see the reaction of his audience.

He’d remind you to have a hot dog, because you were “guaranteed to have a weiner.” After watching a horse named Forty Winks win, he called the horse “a real sleeper.” When Jerry Bailey was riding, he’d ask, “If Barnum runs a horse does he have to put Bailey on him?”

A viewing will be held at Douglass and Zook Chapel of Remembrance Funeral Home, 600 East Foothill Boulevard in Monrovia, not far from Santa Anita, next Monday, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, April 14, at noon at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1757 North Lake Avenue, Pasadena, Calif.

Garr was preceded in death by his wife, Jean. He was the brother of the late Louis Eilken, a former racing secretary at Santa Anita.

In lieu of flowers, Roddy requests donations be made to Shadow Hills Equestrian Therapeutic Riding Club.

additional reporting by Steve Andersen