Urban, “Voice of the Wildcats,” dies at 71

CNJ file photo John Urban laughs as he tries on a Clovis Wildcats hat during a 2004 Kiwanis club meeting. Urban died Wednesday morning at 71.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

The “Voice of the Wildcats” fell silent Wednesday.

John Urban, the longtime public address announcer for Wildcat football games, died Wednesday at Plains Regional Medical Center.

Urban, 71, sang the national anthem to open Clovis home football games at Leon Williams Stadium, and announced for the band every halftime.

“The contribution he’s made to the thousands of kids who have gone through the Clovis Marching Band throughout the years is beyond evaluation,” said Norvil Howell, a retired band director for the school, who said Urban died from cancer.

Howell said he first heard Urban on a local radio station in 1958, and asked him to help out the band. Urban did that role ever since, and added national anthem duties about 35 years ago.

“He’s not only an exceptional announcer,” Howell said, “but a fine vocalist.”

Clovis High Athletic Director Brian Stacy, who came to Clovis in 2002, said he knew no other way.

“It’s one of those mainstays,” Stacy said. “If we’re playing here on Friday night, he’s going to have the national anthem. It was a given.”

But CHS band director Bill Allred said Urban’s reach went beyond Leon Williams Stadium.

“John has given some 45-odd years donating his time and efforts for the kids,” Allred said. “He’s been at every marching contest, every concert to support them.”

At many performances, Allred said, Urban would bring video equipment, and by the end of the school year band members would have a DVD compilation of performances.

Stacy said John Urban did not announce Friday’s opener for health reasons, but his duties were covered by son Ken, who has covered in rare absences for his father.

“Ken’s going to do a great job, carrying on the tradition,” Allred said. “But definitely, nobody could replace John Urban. He was one in a million.”

Funeral services are pending.

Stacy said talks are under way for a tribute at Clovis’ next home game, Sept. 19 against La Cueva.