COLUMBIA — Dane Gregg was so well-liked in his hometown of Boonville that a routine trip to his local Walmart could take two hours.
So revered that nearly 200 people — including the entire Boonville High School baseball team — gathered on his lawn as part of a candlelight vigil to show their support for him as he fought cancer.
So beloved that Mr. Gregg's wife, Jackie, was told that the Davis Funeral Chapel would not be big enough for Mr. Gregg's service, expected to be the biggest in Boonville history.
The Boonville High School gym will have to do — but it's a fitting location. In more than 30 years as a sportscaster for 1370 AM KWRT, Mr. Gregg called countless games there. The gym was like his church, his wife said.
Dane C. Gregg of Boonville died Monday, March 17, 2014, after a long battle with cancer. He was 57.
He was born May 20, 1956, in Houston, Texas, to Doyle Gregg and Donna Letzring Reagan. He married Jackie Hofstetter on July 9, 1983.
When Mr. Gregg was a boy, he would set up in his room and pretend to call ballgames, Jackie Gregg said. He always wanted to be a radio broadcaster when he grew up, and he got his chance in 1980 when he was hired by KWRT as a play-by-play announcer for Boonville High School athletics.
In more than 30 years as "the voice of the Pirates," Mr. Gregg lent his vivid style of play-by-play to thousands of Boonville games in every sport, KWRT owner Matt Billings said. At times, Billings said, it sounded like he was running onto the field with the team after a victory.
"You could close your eyes, and you could be at the game," Billings said.
Later, Mr. Gregg became the host of the station's morning show from 6 to 10 a.m. KWRT traffic director Charlotte Smarr, who started working at the station around the same time as Mr. Gregg, remembered his personable way with callers.
"He wasn't short with them or anything," Smarr said. "No matter who it was or what they wanted to talk about, he was with them."
Jackie Gregg said that her husband was a "people person" who loved radio because it allowed him to connect with people.
And his listeners loved him back.
"You could feel the sincerity in his voice," Billings said. "When Dane would talk to somebody, you knew he cared."
Mr. Gregg was involved in the Boonville community in many ways beyond his work for KWRT. He was a member of Jaycees, The American Legion, Eagles, Masons, Shriners and Lions.
Even before he was diagnosed with cancer in February 2013, Mr. Gregg had been creating plans for a cancer memorial garden in Boonville.
A lot changed after Mr. Gregg was diagnosed, his wife said. They made frequent trips to the Truman Veterans Hospital — sometimes three or four a week — for treatment and tests. Despite his pain, he continued to work at the station until about three weeks before he died.
On Friday, Mr. Gregg appeared on KWRT for the last time, as a guest on "Keeping Good Company," a segment he hosted for many years. During his interview, he said his last goodbyes to his listeners, to everyone who had been praying for and supporting him during his illness.
His final act was doing what he loved. It was closure for him — and it couldn't have been any better, his wife said.
Mr. Gregg is survived by his parents, Gene and Donna Reagan; his step-mother, Francine Gregg; his wife, Jackie; a son, Tyler; a daughter, Sara, and her husband, Bobby Werneke; brothers Dean Reagan, and his wife, Melissa, Darrin Reagan, and his wife, Brenda, Clark Hofstetter, and his wife, Robin; sisters DeeAnn Ducote, and her husband, Butch, Dana Williams, and her husband, Gerald, Debbie Bailey, and her husband, Darrell, Vicki Rutledge, and her husband, Walter, and Audrey Patterson; step-brother Dennis Tharp, and his wife, Paula Kaye; step-sister Debbie Tharp; mother- and father-in-law, Ross and Norma Hofstetter; one grandchild, Ava Werneke; and many nieces and nephews.
His father, Doyle C. Gregg, his nephew, Jason Oswald, and his brother-in-law, David Dodson, died earlier.
Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at Boonville High School gymnasium, 1 Pirate Drive, Boonville. Services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday at the same location with Rev. Mel Eaton and Rev. David Purvis. Burial will follow at Walnut Grove Cemetery, 1006 Locust St., Boonville.
Memorial contributions can be directed to the family.