Feb. 6, 2017
Ray Christensen, who was the Voice of the Gophers for 50 years, has passed away. He was 92.
Christensen, who also served in the Army in World War II, was the longtime play-by-play announcer for Gopher football and basketball. He was a 1949 graduate of the University of Minnesota and then began calling football games in 1951. Christensen retired in 2001 after announcing 50 years of Gopher football and 45 years of Gopher basketball.
His first game of the 2000 football season - his final season behind the microphone - was his 500th football call. Additionally, Christensen broadcasted more than 1,300 basketball games. A banner hangs in his honor in Williams Arena, the only one belonging to a non-athlete or coach in any facility at Minnesota.
Christensen also broadcast games for the Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Vikings and Minneapolis Lakers basketball. His historic broadcasting career also included golf and hockey. Christensen is a member of the University of Minnesota Athletics Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Minnesota Broadcast Hall of Fame in 2002.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Remembering Ray Christensen
Mark Coyle, Minnesota Director of Athletics
"For 50 years, Mr. Christensen kept fans connected and informed about Gopher athletics. His Hall of Fame career is one that we are thankful for, and one that we will most likely not see again. He will forever be the Voice of the Gophers and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this time."
Darrell Thompson, Minnesota Hall of Fame running back and Gopher football radio analyst.
"He was a role model, a gentleman and the classiest man that I ever met. His broadcasting was classic, thorough and extremely clean. He was extremely keen and focused and never missed a single play. Ray was always one of the first people in the press box and he never left his seat. All he needed to call a game was a coffee, black. He rarely gave me advice, but I learned so much from just watching and listening to him. He would say take a deep breath and talk about what you see. Don't try to be like anyone else, just be yourself. I was going four or five miles an hour when I started and he got me up to the speed limit. It was an honor to work with him."
Dave Mona, WCCO radio personality and former Gopher football broadcast partner with Ray Christensen
"When I started working with Ray Christensen on Gopher football broadcasts he asked me during a pre-game conversation about my earliest Gopher football memory. I told him that we had the radio on loud in the kitchen window carrying the Gopher game. I had raked a big pile of leaves, grabbed my football and dove over the pile quoting Ray and saying, '...and Hagberg goes airborne for the touchdown.' Everyone thought of him as the voice of Gopher sports, but he was also a great lover of classical music. He loved to capture a little bit of band music at halftime. I was sitting next to him knowing he needed to segue from the William Tell Overture to a Hal Greenwood Midwest Federal commercial. Without hesitation, Ray said, `and now we take you from The Lone Ranger to a Loan Arranger.' He was a true legend and even a better person."
Dave Lee, WCCO radio personality and former Minnesota football radio play-by-play announcer who followed Christensen
"Ray Christensen embodied the best of his generation and Minnesota! From his service to the country in the U.S. Army in World War II to his broadcasts in the Upper Midwest through WCCO radio and the University of Minnesota. His impact was profound, only superseded by his grace and humility."
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