SEQUIM — Robert Alan Massey, celebrated this spring as the oldest active on-air radio personality in the U.S., died early Sunday morning.
Massey, 90, known as “Classy Bob Massey,” had been ill since mid-June and seemed to be improving, but his condition worsened a week ago and he died just after midnight Sunday at Olympic Medical Center, said Jeff Bankston, vice president of Sequim Community Broadcasting, which owns Sequim-based KSQM FM 91.5.
The nature of Massey’s illness has not been made public.
“Bob fought the good fight and never stopped sharing his love nor his great smile. He proved beyond a doubt that he was, in fact, nothing less than classy,” Bankston said.
Plans for a memorial or services will be announced as soon as arrangements are made, he said.
Susan Trumble, Massey’s daughter, asked that in lieu of flowers, friends and fans make donations to KSQM, the nonprofit public broadcast station where Massey worked.
“His passion was the radio station,” Trumble said.
Massey was a 23-year resident of Sequim and a radio broadcaster from 1945 through this June when he fell ill.
His most recent radio show, “The Best Music Ever Made” ran from 9 a.m. to noon, Mondays through Fridays on KSQM and was streamed live on www.KSQMFM.com.
Family members said Massey planned to return to the show once he recovered from his illness.
“He wanted to go back to work,” said his son, Phillip Massey, adding that his father intended to defy doctors’ expectations.
Massey is survived by six children; Linda Higgins, 66, of Chicago, Ill.; Laura Massey, 63, of West Palm Beach, Fla.; Julie Meek, 61, of Richland; Trumble, 67, of Mill Creek; Robert Massey, Jr., 55, of Marysville; and Phillip Massey, 53, of Lake Forest Park.
He is also survived by stepchildren and grandchildren.
As of his 90th birthday in March, there were no known active broadcasters older than Massey in the U.S., according to Bruce DuMont, founder and president of the Museum of Broadcast Communications and Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago.
Massey was raised in Nashville, Tenn., and when he graduated from high school in 1943, he was drafted into the Army and was initially assigned as an “infantry replacement” in General George S. Patton’s Third Army in Germany.
He was later transferred to an Armed Forces Radio station in Frankfurt, Germany, to provide American-style entertainment to troops stationed in Northern Europe.
In 1947 Massey completed his enlistment, departed Armed Forces Radio and was hired by WJNO in Palm Beach, Fla.
He spent seven years in Florida at five radio stations before relocating to the Pacific Northwest.
In 1963 Massey moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where he landed a job as a broadcaster at KHAR Radio.
A year later, on March 27, 1964, the city was hit by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded, a 9.2 magnitude “megathrust” temblor that destroyed much of the city.
The radio station was knocked off the air by the quake, and it was about a day before power was restored and the station could begin broadcasting notices to area residents.
He remained in Anchorage until 1970, when the Massey family moved to Yakima for a job at KIT Radio then on to Tacoma to work at KBRD.
Massey retired to Sequim in 1992 to care for his wife, Margaret Massey, during a long illness, but after her death in 2006, he returned to radio.
He was the very first on the air for KSQM on the afternoon of Dec. 7, 2008 and continued broadcasting until his illness in June.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at email@example.com.