Buddy Webber's clever chatter often livened the weekday commute. The successful radio personality who always wore a smile was universally...
Buddy Webber’s clever chatter often livened the weekday commute. The successful radio personality who always wore a smile was universally liked, but perpetually late, friends said.
Longtime Bothell resident Justus “Buddy” Webber, a radio disc jockey who also hosted a TV show in the 1960s and ’70s, died of pulmonary fibrosis Friday, March 11. He was 82.
Jack Morton, a longtime colleague and friend, remembered Mr. Webber as “delightful” and “spontaneous.”
“He had the silliest grin I ever saw in my life,” Morton said. “You could almost hear it on the radio in the material he did.”
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“He had a rare talent,” said Jack Macdonald, who worked with Mr. Webber for years as the program director at KVI. “Buddy would start a line on the air, and he’d get to a point where it would be disaster, and he would just stop there and leave it right in your head.
“When he was talking about the weather [he’d say], ‘Oh, boy, it’s cold out today, it’s as cold as the balls — [pause] — on a pool table.’ ”
Born and raised in Bluffton, Ind., Mr. Webber served in the Marine Corps for four years. He married Betty Heck in the late 1940s and started his own big band.
For several years, Mr. Webber fronted his band with a trumpet while his wife sang by his side.
He then began his radio career in Indianapolis, later working his way to Omaha, Neb., and San Francisco’s KGO.
In 1959, he arrived in Seattle to take the helm as the afternoon commute DJ on KVI radio after Gene Autry bought the station. Mr. Webber later joined KOMO, where he hosted the “Buddy Webber Show” in the morning.
Mr. Webber was perhaps best known as part of the duo “[Bob] Hardwick and Webber.”
Early in their careers, the radio personalities made more than in 250 appearances in Seattle one year promoting the station to many women’s groups as “the Hardwick and Webber Social and Marital Adjustment Service,” Macdonald recalled.
In the early ’60s, Mr. Webber played “an amateur human being,” among other characters, opposite Hardwick’s Upton Peter Dunkel, a professional wrestler, on the first blue soap opera on the air, “Helen Trump: A lot of Woman in a lot of Places,” Macdonald said. The show became so “ridiculously successful” that listeners would hold contests dressed as the characters.
But the biggest stunt of all was a race in which Macdonald had Hardwick and Mr. Webber circumnavigate the globe in opposite directions to promote Seattle’s 1962 World’s Fair.
“It was about 3:30 in the morning when I got a call from Beirut, Lebanon, from Buddy Webber saying, ‘Jack, I missed my plane,’ ” Macdonald recalled, adding that listeners had already been informed of his flight plan. “I could have killed him.”
Mr. Webber was one of those people who was always late, Macdonald explained. “If he’d walk down the street, he’d meet four people he knew and he’d just talk and talk and talk and talk.”
But there was a reason he was so friendly with everyone. “[Buddy] was one of the world’s nicest people,” Macdonald said. “The important thing about Buddy was that everybody liked him. Nobody disliked him.”
Mr. Webber’s wife, Betty, died in 1995 after 48 years of marriage. In 1997, he married longtime family friend Carol Jensen.
Mr. Webber, who was baptized as a Jehovah’s Witness in 1963, found it increasingly difficult to balance his work with this faith, said his wife. When he had an opportunity through the ministry to help people in the Canary Islands in the early ’70s, he quit his job.
“He was at the height of his career, and he had a complete change of heart, so he just dropped the whole thing and spent the rest of his life being a minister because he thought it was more important and more satisfying,” Carol Webber said. “And right until the time he died, he was doing the work.”
Carol Webber said she will miss her husband’s companionship, his spiritual strength and his humor.
“He never really stopped entertaining people. It was just in his blood,” she said. “He always wanted to make people happy. He had this little mock ceremony he would go through and dub people ‘Buddy’s buddy,’ and then he would hand them a red sponge clown nose.”
Mr. Webber is survived by his wife; his four children, Jane Praetsch of Wrentham, Mass.; Dan Webber of Cadillac, Mich.; Mike Webber of Westerly, R.I.; and Tim Webber of Reno, Nev.; and his sister, Dorothy Wilkey, of Bluffton, Ind.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. April 2 at the Northshore Senior Center, 10201 E. Riverside Dr., Bothell.Judy Chia Hui Hsu: 425-745-7809