Dewey DeWitt, a longtime broadcaster who has been inducted into three halls of fame and was for decades voice of Aroostook County sports, died Wednesday morning at the age of 99.
The Foreston, New Brunswick, native began his career as a broadcaster in 1951 and he was the first person seen when WAGM-TV in Presque Isle launched in 1956.
“He said he did a weather forecast,” recalled Rene Cloukey, who is the assistant news director and the sports director at WAGM-TV.
DeWitt’s resume is a long and impressive one.
“He was kind of the sports guy in Aroostook County. There weren’t many of them up there,” said Houlton native and veteran broadcaster Dale Duff, who calls games for the WHOU.live video streaming service.
County native Sen. Susan Collins paid tribute to DeWitt on her Twitter account.
“For 70+ years, broadcasting legend Dewey DeWitt was the ‘Voice of Aroostook County.’ The hallmark of his career was his devotion to local sports, especially high school basketball. Whenever I visited Houlton, I loved to see Dewey. I will deeply miss these chats with my friend,” Collins said.
DeWitt broadcast thousands of games in a variety of sports but basketball was his primary sport.
In 1969, it was DeWitt and Del Hodgkins who had the call when Mike Thurston’s half-court shot as time expired gave Caribou High School its first state championship gold ball by virtue of a 65-63 win over Westbrook at the Bangor Auditorium.
DeWitt said after the game, during the broadcast, that “50 years from now, they’ll be marking the point on the floor where Mike Thurston shot that shot.”
Dick Durost, a former Central Aroostook High of Mars Hill basketball player and past executive director of the Maine Principals’ Association, said DeWitt had a “tremendous voice.
“And he was able to call games with speed, accuracy and clarity,” said Durost, noting that DeWitt was able to keep up with the flow of the game.
“I think he had an opportunity to try out to be Johnny Most’s color man [on Boston Celtics broadcasts]. That tells you how highly thought of he was,” Durost said.
Cloukey was hired by DeWitt at WDHP, a radio station in Presque Isle, in 1980.
“The biggest thing I will remember about him is his knowledge,” Cloukey said. “He was like a walking history book. He remembered so much.
“If you had a question about anything, Dewey was always a resource you could call,” he added.
Duff began his radio career in high school and he remembers meeting DeWitt for the first time and asking him for advice.
Duff had the opportunity to chat with DeWitt on several occasions in recent years and said it was always fun.
“He was very sharp. He could dive into a story and recall details about things that happened a long time ago,” Duff said.
“He was a good mentor to me and to a lot of people,” Cloukey said. “He kept in touch with many of us over the years.”
Cloukey said DeWitt was a great guy.
“He always wanted to talk. He always wanted to reminisce,” Cloukey said.
DeWitt was known for his sportscasting but he was also versatile and was a well-respected newsman. He interviewed future presidents John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon when they visited Presque Isle on the campaign trail in 1960.
Senators Ed Muskie and Susan Collins were also interviewed by DeWitt.
Although he was born in New Brunswick, DeWitt attended Aroostook Central Institute in Blaine and Ricker College in Houlton.
He did move to California for several years but returned to Aroostook County and was a broadcaster well into his 90s, hosting a weekend show on WHOU-FM called “Around Town” in which he interviewed local celebrities and visitors to Houlton.
Durost said even when DeWitt moved away, “he never lost touch with the County. He was a County person.”
One of DeWitt’s other passions was golf. He was a member of the Houlton Country Club.
“He was an outstanding golfer. He always shot his age (or lower) and I think he won the Spudland Open in his division when he was in his 90s,” said Cloukey.
DeWitt was inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame in 2018 and has also been inducted into the Maine Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and was recognized as the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame’s Legends of the Game.
He would have turned 100 on March 23.