(WTOL) - A former member of the WTOL family and friendly face in the Toledo community passed away Tuesday.
Orris Tabner was the Sports Director at WTOL for nearly 40 years, from 1959 until his retirement in 1996. He passed away Dec. 1 at the age of 83, after a period of failing health.
A Toledo native, Libbey High School and University of Toledo alumnus, Orris and his brothers were a familiar presence on Toledo radio for years. He worked for WTOL-AM in the '50s, and when the owners founded the TV station with the same name in 1958, Orris worked for both.
"I credit whatever success I had to a lot of continuity at Channel 11 and to longevity and, for some reason, to just being very comfortable with television. There were times I'd be doing interviews on radio and be absolutely petrified. But I was never that way on TV," Orris said in an interview with The Blade in 2009. "Certainly there were guys who knew more about sports than I did, but I think that comfort level allowed me to connect with the viewers and I had a great, long run."
Current Sports Director Dan Cummins worked with Tabner from 1980-96. He says Orris always lit up a room – or private conversation – with his sense of humor.
"He did the same bit every year," Dan said, referring to Orris' coverage of the Ohio State-Michigan football game.
Dan says Orris would say they were going to air a tribute to both teams, then play an Ohio State tribute.
"[Then he'd say,] 'Oh, I'm sorry, guess we're out of time! We'll run it (the Michigan tribute) next year!' And that's just how he was," Dan said.