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Published October 30, 2011, 07:28 PM

Former Sooners announcer Bob Barry Sr. dies

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Bob Barry Sr., the longtime play-by-play voice of Oklahoma football and men's basketball games who also was a local sports anchor, died Sunday. He was 80.

By: Ken Miller, Associated Press, Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Bob Barry Sr., the longtime play-by-play voice of Oklahoma football and men's basketball games who also was a local sports anchor, died Sunday. He was 80.

KFOR-TV news director Mary Ann Eckstein said Barry was found dead in his Norman home.

"He didn't get his morning papers and his neighbors became concerned," Eckstein said. She had no other details and said a cause of death had not been determined.

Barry became the radio play-by-play voice of the University of Oklahoma in 1961, when he was chosen by football coach Bud Wilkinson. Barry held the job until the team's radio rights changed in 1972.

He returned as the voice of the Sooners in 1991 after providing basketball and football play-by-play for Oklahoma State University and basketball play-by-play for the University of Tulsa in between his OU stints.

Barry retired last spring at the end of the OU basketball season, having spent 50 years calling Division I college games in the state. He said he did so for health reasons and because he didn't feel his vision allowed him to perform up to his standards.

"Something you love to do your entire life and you're able to do it and get paid for it, it's hard to let go. Really, part of me doesn't want to let go. But the other part of me says, 'It's time, Bubba,'" Barry said in August 2010, when announcing his retirement plans.

Barry was sports director at Oklahoma City's KFOR until 1998, when he was succeeded by his son, Bob Barry Jr. Barry Sr. continued providing reports for the television station until retiring in 2008.

OU President David Boren said Barry was "loved by Oklahomans" across the state.

"Bob Barry represented the best of the Sooner spirit. With his contagious enthusiasm, he was one of the best sports broadcast journalists in the entire nation," Boren said in a statement released by the university.

When announcing his retirement, Barry listed the 1971 "Game of the Century" between No. 2 Oklahoma and top-ranked Nebraska and the Sooners' most recent national championship win in the 2001 Orange Bowl among the highlights of his career.

His very first game was Oklahoma's trip to Notre Dame in the 1961 season opener.

"I was scared to death," Barry said last year. "I get in there and do the game, broadcast the game and then like a little kid, I get on the phone, 'Dad, how'd I do? How'd I do, Dad?' ... He said I did OK."

OU football coach Bob Stoops, in a statement released by the university, expressed condolences to Barry's family.

"I know this is a difficult time for them, but hope they can find comfort in a life well-lived and the love of countless fans all over the country."

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, who was the Cowboys' quarterback when Barry was the Cowboys' play-by-play announcer during the 1980s, issued a statement calling Barry a family friend and a state legend.

"He always had a smile and a great sense of humor. From the Gundy family and the entire Oklahoma State family, we send our thoughts and prayers."

Toby Rowland, the man who replaced Barry as the voice of the Sooners, said he never saw Barry have a bad day.

"Even after 50 years of broadcasting he would show up at the stadium like a kid in a candy store. His play by play style was unmistakable, but it is his gentle, kind and fun-loving spirit that I will always remember," Rowland said.

Barry's career began with him calling football and basketball games at Norman High School before he was noticed by Wilkinson, whose sons attended the school. He then spent the final two decades of his career back on the sidelines calling Sooners games.

"I don't know what I did right to deserve this," Barry said upon announcing his retirement, "but it's just been wonderful."

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