Boston Sports Guru Don Gillis Dies at 85

Canada-Born Retired Newsman Had Been Suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease
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Don Gillis, known as Boston’s first sports anchor, died. The Canada-born retired newsman was 85 and had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

A veteran of radio, Gillis began a nightly sports segment on WHDH in 1962, and he is said to be the first anchor in Boston to do a sportscast. Gillis then shifted to WCVB, where he was the sports director from 1972-83. He was also the play-by-play guy for the Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics, New England Patriots and Boston Bruins at various points in his career.

Gillis was well-known for hosting a program centered on quirky New England pastime candlepin bowling for over 37 years. “It’s been a long and beautiful ride,” Gillis said when he signed off on his final Candlepins program in 1995.

WCVB called Gillis “a beloved and founding member of the channel 5 family. Generations of local viewers grew up watching Don as both a sports anchor and host of the popular Candlepin Bowling program. A true Boston legend, there was no one better.”

Gillis’ son Gary followed him into the sports-broadcasting business. “My father was proud of his versatility,” Gary told the Boston Globe. “He was a good reporter and a good anchor, and he was most proud of his relationships with the athletes he covered because he felt there was mutual respect.”

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