Lawrence V. Birleffi
April 17, 1918
|Died||September 27, 2008 (aged 90)|
|Alma mater||University of Wyoming|
|Spouse(s)||Lois Sturtevant Birleffi,|
married 1942–2004 (her death)
(1) Birleffi's newspaper and broadcasting activities spanned much of the 20th century, as he became known as the original "Voice of the University of Wyoming Cowboys". radio and thereafter in local, regional, and national television sports broadcasts.
Lawrence V. "Larry" Birleffi (April 17, 1918 – September 27, 2008) was a Wyoming broadcaster known as the original "Voice of the University of Wyoming Cowboys", having announced all UW football and basketball games from 1947 to 1986. He helped to build the UW sports program in Laramie and was a vigorous promoter of its athletic teams. He also won a Bronze Star for his service during World War II.
Birleffi was one of four children born to Victor Birleffi (1888–1970), a miner, and Louise Birleffi (1895–1986) in Hartville in Platte County in southeastern Wyoming and lived in the state for his entire life except for four years in the military. During Birleffi's youth, Hartville had a population of two thousand, compared to fewer than one hundred in the 2000 census. Birleffi was of Italian ethnicity and Roman Catholic in a predominantly Protestant state. He graduated from Sunrise High School, now Guernsey-Sunrise High School in Guernsey, where he was quarterback of the football team. In 1942, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Wyoming. He was a major in the United States Army 92nd Infantry Division, having served in Italy.
Birleffi's career spanned the history of broadcasting. While in college, he was a sportswriter for the Laramie Daily Boomerang, the daily newspaper in Laramie, the seat of Albany County. He thereafter moved into radio and television. An icon of Wyoming sports, he was renowned for his booming, enthusiastic voice. He also co-owned a radio station and appeared on regional and national television. He had a regular sports column in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in Cheyenne. He was the announcer for UW football and basketball for some thirty-seven years. Birleffi's love of athletics was shown in his writing; according to his obituary,he demonstrated a belief in the importance of teamwork, commitment, discipline, and spirit as essential to all sports.
He hosted regular television sports programs created a radio talk show called Cheyenne Today. He was the station manager and eventually a part-owner of KFBC Radio. He received assignments, such as the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada, from ABC Wide World of Sports, created and originally produced by another Wyoming native, Curt Gowdy, a personal friend of Birleffi's.
Birleffi was "Wyoming Broadcaster of the Year" in 1954. In 1992, the press booth at UW's War Memorial Stadium was named in his honor. In 1996, he was inducted into the University of Wyoming Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame. In 2001, he was named "Outstanding Alumni" for the UW College of Arts and Sciences. At the time, Governor Jim Geringer described Birleffi as "indeed a gentleman cowboy and a scholar. His service to community, country, and nation brings honor and credit to Wyoming, our university, and to the College of Arts and Sciences." In 2003, he was inducted to the Wyoming Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame, having also been a former president of the organization. He was a member of Rotary International, a founding member and past president of the Cheyenne Quarterback Club. He was active in the UW Cowboy Joe Club, the Wyoming Heritage Foundation, the American Heart Association, and the American Cancer Society.
Family and death
In 1942, Birleffi wed the former Lois A. Sturtevant of Laramie; they remained married until her death in 2004. The couple had three daughters: Lynn Birleffi (m. Phil Noble) of Cheyenne, Bobbie Birleffi of New York City, and Laurie Rosen (m. Steve Rosen) of Chevy Chase, Maryland; and two grandchildren.
Birleffi died at age 90, on September 27, 2008, at Davis Hospice in Cheyenne. He was survived by his daughters and grandchildren, and by a sister, Evelyn B. Johnston, of Billings, Montana. He was preceded in death by his wife Lois, and by two brothers: Arthur Birleffi and John A. Birleffi (1929–1999) of Greeley, Colorado. Services were held on September 30 at St. Mary's Cathedral, 2102 Warren Avenue, in Cheyenne. News of Birleffi's death was carried by the Associated Press and many newspapers in the American West.
- University of Wyoming Athletics, Hall of Fame website Archived 2008-10-14 at the Wayback Machine
- Larry Birleffi stories Archived 2008-05-11 at the Wayback Machine
- Wyoming News. Obituary, dated 28 September 2008.
- University of Wyoming. Birleffi page Archived 2008-11-17 at the Wayback Machine
- St. Mary's Cathedral, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Archived 2011-02-08 at the Wayback Machine