WTIC Alumni Site
In Memory of and Designed by Bill Clede
After Bob Ellsworth's passing on
October 9, 2009, the Alumni site received many memories and anecdotes
about him. We would like to share them with you:
The inevitable event has occurred for Bob Ellsworth. His family (and Fr. John Gatzak of WJMJ) have sent word that he passed away at 8:45 this morning. As you probably know, he faced his fate with a great deal of strength, humility, and even humor, but could not overcome the ravages of fast-moving esophageal cancer. Memorial tributes are expected to begin airing on WJMJ immediately, at 88.9 mhz.
Malloy Funeral Home of West Hartford is in charge of arrangements for cremation plus special services that will be held within a week. It is hoped that details will be provided in a formal obituary that will be published as soon as practicable. Bob’s widow, Rosemary, is coping well thanks to support from Bob’s numerous friends and her immediate family (all of whom were on hand from California, Pennsylvania, and Cape Cod).
Each of us has lost a great pal, expert performer, and deeply committed citizen. Thankfully, we can all share wonderful memories of his enormous talent and sparkling personality. --Bill Hennessey
My deepest sympathies to Bob's family and friends. My first contact with Bob was in 1963 while in the Connecticut National Guard where Bob was the official Information Officer, and I was appointed as his assistant. Never did I realize we would be connected at WTIC a short while later when I was hired as a Producer. I spent many summer encampments at Camp Drum NY with Bob. We even got lost together in a jeep while driving from Hartford to Camp Drum. Bob was always fun the be with, and some times unpredictable, but always professional. Bob was unique, and I always enjoyed our time together. --Chuck Renaud
How very sad to hear of Bob's passing. I have Bob to thank for my years at WTIC. He used to come up to do commercials and/or voice overs at WHYN Channel 40 in Springfield where I was working at the time. He told me he was leaving TIC and that I should audition for a spot. He gave me Ross's number and set the groundwork for me. I shall always be grateful and our condolences go out to Rosemary, his family and his extended WTIC family. God rest his soul. --Jim and Dima Thompson
So glad we were able to see Bob at recent reunions, and another reason to hold another one.
My favorite Bob story was when the documenter tape caught him late one night adding the names of friends and associates to the list of those who had "starred" in whatever 2 a.m.movie potboiler we were airing that night. Asked what he thought he was doing (probably by Leonard J.) his reply reportedly was, "I was BORED."
We've all been there Bob. Thanks for speaking truth to power....and adding a little fun to the mundane in life. We'll miss you.
Although I don't think Bob even knew my name, I did see and speak with him a few times while I was at TIC. His charm, wit, quick humor and terrific friendly personality always struck me as an example of a 'big station, big personality' guy who never had a star complex and was totally comfortable in his skin! No doubt he will be missed by many...condolences to his family and colleagues. --Tom Scanlan
My recollections of Bob go way back to about three weeks before Channel 3 signed on. I wrote his 11 PM newscasts during the run-up to on-air, then for the first two or two and-half years the station was on the air, and he was an absolute joy to work with. We had a lot of adventures together -- like late film coming in and getting him the script in the middle of a newscast. But no matter what we ran into, he handled it like a professional. He was a magnificent ad libber -- like the time he was reading a story about a Greek ship that ran aground. As he began reading the story, instead of a "Greek ship," he began the story by saying "A weak......." Realizing he had messed up, and being the magnificent ad libber that he was, he continued on after an ever-so-brief pause by saying "A weak...looking Greek ship ran aground today." Everyone in the control room was in hysterics, but Ellsy pulled it off like nothing had happened. Bob was a good newscaster, a true professional, and an even better friend. We'll miss him. --Larrye deBear
We have all lost a friend, colleague, & a true pioneer in the business. He was a joy to work with in every respect. I'm sure that we all have many stories to tell of Ellsie's quick wit and aire of complete confidence in whatever he did. He always seem to have that sparkle in his eye that said, 'We're going to get through this somehow". Our deepest condolences to Rosemary & the entire Ellsworth family. We shall all miss him. --Dan McAuliffe- Venice, FL
Thanks for passing on the sad news. I had the privilege of working with Bob, both at WTIC, where he gave me a lot of help and encouragement toward a broadcasting career, and at VOA, where his professionalism was inspiring to many of the younger broadcasters. I am so glad I had a chance to talk with him at the last reunion. --Tony Riggs
I remember when in the early eighties he and Rosemary came to Washington to apply for a job at Voice of America. He had contacted me, and I gave him some names of people to see. When they blew into town he called me, and Marcia and I met them at their hotel in Washington for dinner. We arrived for an early dinner, and must have closed the hotel restaurant around midnight! A memorable evening. Of course, he was hired by VOA and worked there for a few years, but their hearts were in Connecticut, and they returned as soon as they could. But it was good having them here even for a little while.
I think I can speak for all of us who knew Bob when I say that we all loved him. He was a great person, fun to be with, always a friend. I will miss him. My condolences go to Rosemary and their family. --Bob Scherago
I appreciate the notification but saying thanks never seems appropriate in these circumstance. Yes, a very fine talent and a real gentleman with what I appreciate so much in colleagues.....a great sense of humor. How old was the good man? I can see him so clearly....mustache and all....winding up the evening Ch. 3 news with Bob Ellsworth here...good night. Good night Bob. It's been a pleasure. --Don Blair
Not an easy assignment, spreading the sad word of Bob Ellsworth's passing... I'm sure he lives in the memory of anyone who ever knew him.
Who could forget that sincere, offbeat, amused and amusing persona. My memories range from his hilarious appearance as Fidel Castro in full military uniform, mustache bristling, at a small 'TIC gathering at the (old) Irish American Club in the late '50s ... to a conversation with him early this summer about his concern for Rosemary. He was a kind "man for all seasons". --Dick & Sophie Huntley
I received the messages about Bob Ellsworth and am very saddened to learn of his passing. I remember very well watching him doing Channel 3 news; I think he was on weekends. He had a wonderful air voice. My sympathy to his family. --Bob Paine
No less than a shock to get the news about Bob. Somethings don't always seem fair. A recollection: It was not long after I joined the radio production department on the sixth floor that I was assigned a new program, "Focus On Careers." It was sponsored by the Ford Foundation and they produced and provided the first fifteen minutes. Stations were to assemble a few high school students each week to discuss the career of the week. I asked Bob to be the announcer. On one occasion he could not resist becoming Frank Knight. Well management heard the show (they heard them all) and Bunny Mullins lit into Bob."Who did you think you were? Frank Knight?" And Bob replied quickly, "Sir, I was Frank Knight."
That show happened to win a Major Armstrong Award and nary a critical comment came forth thereafter.
So, sadly, goodbye to Frank Knight. And, more sadly, goodbye Bob. You played an important role in the lives of us all.
As you know nothing fazed Bob. If he made an error he would go right on as if nothing had happened. One night, when we were still in the Grove Street building, I was the booth announcer while Bob read the 11 o'clock news on camera. My guess is it was about 1960 or so. Patrice Lumumba, a ne-'re do well African despot, had just completed a raucous visit to the United Nations in New York and was returning to Africa. The copy read something like: "After addressing the United Nations in New York today, Patrice Lumumba boarded a plane for the Congo". But it didn't come out that way. Instead Bob said: "After addressing the United Nations in New York today Patrice Lumumba boarded a plane for Chicago (pause) where he grabbed a connecting flight to the Congo." He never missed a beat. How wonderful were those days. And Bob made them even more special for all of us. --Dick Bertel
I remember being at the premiere of the D-Day movie, The Longest Day, at the Elm in Elmwood where Bob, in his Army Reserve dress blues, served as host of an opening ceremony. It began with a recording of the National Anthem, with Bob saluting smartly. Then, for some reason, the National Anthem repeated and Bob again saluted smartly. Then, when it stopped, he told the audience, "You can never hear enough of that great, old song. --Dick Ahles
I was only a teen in high school working part time at WTIC ---after school, late 50-s ...and weekends I manned the switchboard because they thought I had the makings of an announcer anyway. I recall Bob played a grand piano during a mid day show....music from the turntables, and he'd do his chords and melodies while he spoke to our listeners. Am I wrong? He did this from the smaller studio (A?) down the hall a bit from master control. Ne'ertheless, I can see Bob Ellsworth in my mind very clearly. He struck me as being very intelligent, charming, and witty. Always dressed in a suit with and that striking dark hair and moustache added to his charisma. Though I had not seen him since, it is interesting to learn that on my broadcast journey since 1960, he and I must have been living in the D.C. about the same years as I was a news anchor there. Fondly remembering WTIC days at the Traveler's. --Bill Turkington (kwxz-fm palm springs)
I vividly recall his Fidel Castro role, the “Congo/Chicago” story, the “weak Greek ship”, and, of course, the marvelous award-winning impersonation of Frank Knight of Longines-Wittnauer on-air fame. I also remember Bob sometimes doing the Monday night 11 p.m. TV news dressed in civvies from the waist-up, with his Army uniform on the rest of his body after his weekly military drill (in those black-and-white pre-color days).
And… I confess to trapping Bob with phony copy for his thrice-weekly “Old, New, Borrowed and Blue” 15-minute musical interludes. Such short shows required tight timing, with detailed scripting, which he wrote. While he was rehearsing a 6 p.m. radio newscast, I slipped some bogus words into a script he had partially completed. The result was a hilarious taping of him cold-reading lines about the make-believe song, “How’s Your Bird?”. He enjoyed the prank as much as I did and was always full of good fun even while presenting a public persona of a staid, dignified newscaster. He was one of the best guys of the best years in Broadcasting. The snappy salute that ended each of his TV Newscasts perfectly suits his final departure: “Bob Ellsworth here. -- [salute]-- Good night.” --Bill Hennessey
As we all mourn Bob's passing please understand that it was a blessing. I hadn't seen him for several days when I visited Tuesday and I was shocked at his appearance. He was very groggy and there were lines of pain etched into his face. He smiled when he saw me dressed in a hospital gown and rubber gloves, a necessity to protect Bob because of his pneumonia. He could barely talk because of the tube in his throat and everything else he was hooked up to.
There was a shift change and the night nurse came in and asked if he was in pain. Typical Bob he muttered "discomfort". He wasn't about to call it pain though it obviously was. I held his hand and talked with him for about a half-hour then told him I was going to leave so he could rest and try to regain his strength. I said I was going directly to a church in Rocky Hill to light a five day candle for him and would re-light it every five days. He was obviously very pleased by that. Bob had become much more spiritual that I could ever recall and told me a couple times that he had 84 great years, no complaints, and if it was his time he was ready to move on to his new adventure.
Years ago at Mass our priest said his mother was gravely ill and asked the congregation to join him in praying for her "swift recovery or sweet death", When I got the call yesterday about Bob's passing I was struck with momentary grief, then relief that his suffering was over. We'll all miss him but we had the gift of knowing him and the memories are forever. RIP, Bob. --Arnold Dean
The broadcasting community has lost one of its brightest stars. I first met Bob when I was at Channel 30 and we were "media" guests at some function or other. When I arrived at WTIC he was one of the first to welcome me. Putting together his newscasts was always a pleasure - even if we had to stay alert for potential ad libs. He'll be missed by everyone who new him. --Bill Mill
Bob was a gentleman and broadcaster, and a wonderful guy who had a marvelously charming personality. I never heard an unkind word about him. His presence at our reunions will be greatly missed.
I always thought we were much closer in age (I am 64) because he always treated me as a contemporary. Bob came from the Golden Days
of Radio & TV, and was a storyteller, first and foremost.
I like to think he and Bob Steele are being reunited, and it would be great if they could send us a sign that there is a hereafter
where WTIC Alumni continue to have reunions at that Great Officers Club in the sky… --Kenn Venit
I was deeply saddened but, unfortunately, not terribly surprised to learn of Bob's passing. Lynne and I were fortunate to be at the BOOB's gathering on June 29th. When Bob arrived he greeted us warmly, then said he had received some bad medical news that day, but didn't elaborate and we didn't ask for details. He did say that he would not be around for many more gatherings and certainly not for the next reunion. He was telling me that that it would be the last time we would see each other. We then spent over an hour talking about the fun we had in "the old days". Bob and I were colleagues both in broadcasting and in the Connecticut National Guard. He was PIO for the Army Guard and I was his counterpart in the Air Guard. We both worked indirectly for the same two-star General and we had some laughs about that association. Arnie Dean was also at the Arch St. Tavern that evening and I was pleased to learn today through his e-mail that he was able to spend some time with Bob in his final days. I treasure that particular BOOB's gathering as I do Bob's friendship. I miss him already. --Bill Flower
I believe that Bob, with his commanding voice, was born to be a broadcaster. When I got my first job as a meteorologist in Norfolk, VA in 1952, I managed ,with some difficulty, to tune into WTIC occasionally and really enjoyed hearing his familiar voice doing the news. After getting re-acquainted with him at our reunions, I will sadly miss him. --Jim Macdonald
How grateful I am that I was able to see Bob one last time when Bill and Mary Hennessey so graciously hosted a backyard picnic for all of us in early August. We were both fully aware of Bob's condition and I was able to tell him how very much he meant to me. We worked together at four different stations over the many years we knew each other, beginning at WGTH, then WTIC, WKSS and finally the Voice of America. What a kick it was to walk down those long corridors at the Voice and see Bob coming toward me, heading for a studio down the hall. Every day he was there it was "old times" for me and it was so heartwarming to know that we were still working together after all those many years. I can't imagine what my career would have been like without Bob there to share it with me. I do know that it would not have been nearly as much fun, of that I am sure. The last time I talked to Bob, about 10 days or so before he passed away, he wanted to know how Jean and all of our kids were doing. Jim Stewart was so right when he said it was never about him. In the early '60s WTIC management, in its wisdom, told Bob he was not to salute at the end of his newscast anymore. It was a crushing blow for him. However, after a week in which the station was inundated with letters and phone calls, they allowed him to reinstate it. And so he continued to salute his viewers for many more years even as we salute our dear colleague and friend now. Thank you, Bob. Oh, how you enriched my life.
I never knew Bob Ellsworth, the man. He was long-gone from the halls of WTIC before I got there. But he played a significant role in interesting this kid from Bristol in broadcasting.
He was the epitome of a broadcaster, back when that term truly meant something, with a wide range of talents and on-air assignments. He blended authority, trustworthiness, and sophistication into his work and made it seem like serving "the public interest" was also great fun. He piqued my interest in broadcasting, an interest which has determined much of the course of my life.
I so well remember his goodnight salute on Channel 3, an idiosyncratic gesture few could possibly have managed with such panache. Yeah, he was cool. What a template for an impressionable kid to internalize, even if that kid could never manage much panache.
Bob Ellsworth, Bill Hennessey, Dick Bertel. They were the guys who made broadcasting seem exciting and worthwhile to me, even as a pretty young kid. What great role models WTIC gave us in those days! I did get to work with Bill Hennessey and Dick Bertel, and can only envy those who knew Bob Ellsworth. All of the (mostly) men who sat behind the mics and before the cameras in those long-ago days should know that their impact is still felt in many lives of those who listened and watched. --Michael Toscano, Washington, DC
Bob was a real professional,, a good guy with that great sense of humor,, and fun to work with.
One memory ------ doing the 11PM radio news weather forecast, in Broadcast House. Bob reached across the table and set fire to my script. We ended OK, then Bob calmly continued, all the while with that big wide smile. -- Ken Garee
(Click on the picture for a larger one --Webmaster)
Kenn, How's this for a sign? --Phil Steele
All: The absolute beauty of Bob was that it was never about him, even to the end. Linda and I were with him this past Monday evening at the hospital and believe it or not we had a wonderful visit....yes, he was tired, but he was as usual as affable as one can be. He was responsive, as alert as one could be in that compromised state. At one point during the visit, a nurse came in to take his vitals and as she was taking a BP reading, I said to her, "Do you know who you are treating?; this guy is a star!" Bob looked at me, then the nurse and said, "He is my agent" and proceeded to laugh. We stayed with Bob for a while and when he seemed to tire we said we would leave him to rest. As we were preparing to depart, I did what I always did when leaving Bob.....I saluted him and asked not to return the salute tonight. He replied, "Oh No" and slowly raised his right arm and returned my salute.
I also had the pleasure and honor to take Bob to the West Hartford Veteran's Memorial on Sept. 29th. This would turn out to be his last excursion out of a medical facility. During one of our visits to the rehab facility, he had asked me to take him to the site because the committee would be testing a new sound system which will be used for a Veteran's Day event. When he asked me to bring him there, he said, "You will enjoy it". Again, never about him! We had a beautiful weather day, Bob was alert, excited and involved and we spent a wonderful two hours there.
This was a very special man who touched so many lives in a beautiful way! --Jim Stewart
--Bill LobbDick Bertel explains the above:
I returned from a brief vacation to the news of Bob's passing and was deeply saddened. After I opened my marketing/advertising company and Bob returned to the area, he voice-overed perhaps a dozen or so industrial videos my company had produced for a variety of clients. There wasn't a single track in the bunch that didn't contain a masterful Ellsworth ad lib. And each time, somehow, the result made more sense than the words contained in the original scripts!
It seems each individual life touches this world in a way no other can, leaving not only priceless memories, but indelible imprints upon hour hearts. Bob Ellsworth did that! --Chuck Albert
Bob Ellsworth's step-son has sent us the following:
past three months have passed far too quickly and along with them a man
that I had hoped I would have many more years to spend time with, who
always had a story to share, a joke to tell or was simply content to
listen to me talk, share a beer or watch a movie with me, my wife and
his grandchildren. I will greatly miss my step father, Bob
Ellsworth, but this sad time in my life has been eased somewhat by the
out pouring of sympathy from his many friends, particularly those he
knew well and worked with over many years in both the broadcast
industry and the National Guard. I am particularly appreciative
of the WTIC Alumni members who have contributed to the remembrances on
this board and David Kaplan who has been kind enough to share both
printed and electronic copies with me and allowed me to post this
message of appreciation on behalf of my entire family.