Jim Leahey, the voice of Hawaiian sports for nearly 60 years, has died

Jim Leahey, an eloquent and ubiquitous voice who has been synonymous with broadcasting sports in Hawaii for nearly 60 years, died this morning after a long illness.

The family released a statement, which read: “Today we lost the patriarch of our family. A man known for his towering talent for storytelling, an unrelenting passion for Hawaii and the teams and athletes that represent it, and a lifelong love for the craft of sports broadcasting. Jim Leahey was also a faithful and loving husband, father, and grandfather who put his family and faith above all else.

“He took great pride in providing the narrative for some of the University of Hawaii’s greatest sporting achievements and was delighted to see the community come together as one to cheer on the home team. We thank everyone for their well wishes and support at this sad time.

“As our father used to say to end his broadcasts, ‘malama pono kekahi i kekahi.'”

Leahey was best known as a prolific play-by-play voice for University of Hawaii sports on television and radio. But he’s also hosted several radio and TV magazine shows over the years, most recently “Leahey and Leahey” with his son Kanoa on Hawaii Public Television.

He was famous for his calls at UH football, basketball, and baseball games, but worked in many other sports as well.

“In a few years I was doing up to seven different UH sports a year,” Leahey told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser in 2018. “It was great.”

Leahey was inducted into the University of Hawaii Sports Circle of Honor in 2016.

He retired in 2018. Leahey also worked in sports broadcasting with his father Chuck in the 1960s.

Kanoa Leahey is now the premier TV sports announcer for most UH sports.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Josh Pacheco and Scottie Robbs, but I’m 75 now and I don’t want to be in a position of people who are rising and working hard,” Leahey said at the time.

Before becoming a full-time sportscaster, Leahey was a school teacher, most notably at Campbell High School. He continued to teach unofficially as a mentor to generations of aspiring Hawaii sportswriters.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi broadcast UH sporting events with Leahey for more than a decade.

“I feel very privileged to be able to say that Jim Leahey and I were more than friends,” Blangiardi said in a statement. “We shared 13 unforgettable football seasons and played on radio and television at University of Hawaii games. Jim had a very rare and special ability to connect with people, particularly in capturing the Hawaiian pride in the success of our teams, not just in football but in every sport!

“Jim was able to evoke emotions and that made every game a worthwhile experience, no matter what the result. In a business where champions are worshiped, Jim Leahey was a champion and his legacy and many contributions to the sport of Hawaii will never be forgotten!”

Leahey is survived by his wife Toni, three children and one grandchild.