PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s a loss being felt by the Pittsburgh community.
“An overachiever as a human being. He reached out to people. He was fair. He was friendly. He cared about others,” Steelers Play-by-Play Announcer Bill Hillgrove said of Tunch Ilkin.
Ilkin passed away Saturday morning at the age of 63.
Hillgrove said it won’t be easy to call Steelers games this year without Tunch, but his impact went beyond the football field.
From 1998-2020 Ilkin and Hillgrove were the sound of Steelers football.
WATCH: Full Interview With Bill Hillgrove
“It was two decades of pure joy to be around the man,” Hillgrove said outside Heinz Field.
The news of Tunch’s passing has Hillgrove down, but he is remembering the good times with his broadcast partner.
“Being Irish I’m taught that you should celebrate lives and there is one that had great reason to celebrate,” Hillgrove said.
Outside the press box, Tunch worked with the homeless and addicted at the Light of Life Rescue Mission. His faith pushed him to help others.
“He was special. I don’t know of any other word that would be better than special,” Hillgrove told KDKA.
He will miss the joys of celebrating Steelers victories with Tunch and knows the fans will miss his broadcast partner’s humor.
“They’ll miss that treatment of life that was something to enjoy not something that drudgery, and they’ll miss that,” Hillgrove said.
According to him, while Tunch was always proud of his Chicago roots and Indiana State Alma Mater, he was part of the fabric of Pittsburgh.
“He’s Pittsburgh through and through. Black and gold all the way, and he’s in our hearts,” the Steelers play-by-play man said.
Hillgrove plans to have each broadcast dedicated to Tunch this season.