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Jim Colston, known in the Roanoke Valley by his radio handle Jim Carroll, mostly covered high schools.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
Jim Colston, known to generations of Roanoke Valley sports fans by his radio handle, Jim Carroll, had “a life that a lot of us would aspire to,” his older son, Chris, said Wednesday.
Colston, 83, died in his sleep on Tuesday.
In a 2004 interview, Colston estimated that he did radio play-by-play for close to 1,300 games in a 41-year career, 1964-2005. For much of that time, he also was general sales manager for WROV-AM and sold most of the advertising that kept the games on the air.
Colston mostly covered high schools, beginning with a Cave Spring-Northside football game in 1964, but he also had stints as a broadcaster for the Roanoke Buckskins semi-pro football team and Radford University men’s basketball.
He was named to the Virginia High School League Hall of Fame in 1999 and to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
In recent years, he had suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, which often left him short of breath, but he was scheduled to come home from the Veterans Administration Hospital on Wednesday.
Colston, who was born July 18, 1929, most recently was hospitalized following a fall.
“He was having more and more trouble breathing,” Chris Colston said. “He was very uncomfortable, but the blessed thing was, he wasn’t in a lot of pain. His mind was still there.”
Colston, an Iowa native and a 1955 University of Iowa graduate, served in the U.S. Army in Korea and was a broadcaster with the Armed Forces Radio Network.
He later worked as a disc jockey, handling the 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift in Rome, N.Y.
“When I came down here from Rome, I was doing sales, and the boss down here didn’t want me to use the same name,” Colston said in the 2004 interview. “So, he said, ‘Why don’t you change your name on the air? Go with something you’re familiar with.”
Colston was in the booth in 1971 when T.C. Williams and Salem's Andrew Lewis High Schools played the Group AAA championship at Roanoke’s Victory Stadium. That game was featured in the movie, “Remember the Titans.”
“I interviewed [T.C. Williams coach] Herman Boone the week before down at E.C. Glass, when he was down there scouting,” Colston said. “I never imagined, and I doubt he ever did, that they’d make a movie about the team.”
Even during a period when his sight was giving him problems, Colston continued to call basketball games with the aid of seeing-eye analyst Jerry English, a former coach
“He was always careful not to criticize a player or a coach,” English said. “He was the consummate professional in how he handled everything.”
Colston loved to play golf and was a single-digit handicapper, often following a round with one of his other passions, a game of gin rummy at Hidden Valley Country Club.
“He couldn’t play golf anymore,” said Chris Colston, who, like his younger brother, Steve, inherited his father’s love of sports, “but he was playing cards up until a month ago.
“He still loved watching the [Chicago] Cubs. He never got to see them win a World Series, but if I live to be 100, I won’t live to see it either.”
Jim Colston is survived by his wife, Jo, and their two sons. A funeral service will be held 2 p.m. Saturday at Covenant Presbyterian Church.
“Living up in Northern Virginia, I have an appreciation for his ties to the community,” Chris said. “It was a good life. He had his golf and, you know, he just loved doing those broadcasts.
Most important, he was a good man. He was gentle, kind and polite. We’ll miss him a lot.”
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