Chilliwack has lost one of its strongest voices, with the passing of longtime broadcaster Grant Ullyot.
He died on Friday, March 3, just one week before his 82nd birthday.
Ullyot worked in the media for 56 years, only retiring from his most recent posting at Orchand & Vine magazine in December. But most will remember Ullyot from his days in radio, when his dispatches came over the airwaves live.
“That was a great career,” said his son Jeff Ullyot. “He loved it and the he loved the connection with the community that it gave him. He was truly sad when live radio ended.”
He said his dad was happiest while reporting, and was known for working early in the morning and well into the night.
Ullyot remembers growing up in Saskatchewan, where his dad would travel from town to town with whatever team he was covering at the time.
“He was tireless but he was passionate,” he said. “His love was play-by-play hockey.”
And that meant his kids had the chance to fall in love with hockey, too.
“I can recall personally myself carrying the extension cord and tape recorder into the hockey games so I could get in free because I was his assistant,” he says. The family moved to Chilliwack in the 1970s, when Ullyot became the news director for CHWK Radio.
He stayed in that role for 27 years. Ullyot was also a mainstay in local agricultural reporting, being the main voice behind Black Press’ Westcoast Farmer.
Above all, Ullyot remembers his father as a cheerleader for this area, for its sports community and for local farmers.
“He loved Chilliwack,” he says. “He would do anything to promote or just make Chilliwack special in anyway he could. You could call him an ambassador, but he just absolutely loved people, and people counted on him too, to be honest and speak proudly, and he put out a very good image of Chilliwack
He and his wife Nancy Ullyot had just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. They have five children and many grandchildren.
MP Mark Strahl noted that Ullyot was a mainstay while growing up in the Strahl household.
“It was a real pleasure to get to know Grant Ullyot following my election as MP,’ he said. “I knew his voice from my childhood. He was a regular on AM radio station CHWK 1270. We usually listened to him on Sunday mornings while we were getting ready for church, with his show Sunday News Magazine. I had the honour of presenting him with a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in January 2013. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and many friends. Thank you for everything you gave to our community, Grant.”
Former mayor and MLA John Les also made public comment about Ullyot’s passing, calling him a “very good friend.”
“Chilliwack has lost a good man,” he said. “He served our community well ever since he arrived in 1972, working as news director at CHWK 1270 radio for many years…I will miss him.”
The family has not yet made arrangements for a service.
• Grass roots with Grant Ullyot, by Ana Macedo, Chilliwack Progress 2011.