I have hundreds of TV channels on my television at home I don’t watch most of them but they’re there. I’m not that old but I can remember when we only had three stations, a fourth if the weather was just right and the signal came from an antenna on the roof not a serving tray sized satellite dish.
When you only had three stations you had to watch what was on and one of my favorite shows as a kid were re-runs of Championship Fishing. The show was hosted by Virgil Ward and he came across as a Grandfatherly type figure who you were sure you’d like if had ever met.
Virgil was literally a “Grandfartherly type” figure to a GVMH staff member. I never met Virgil but I do know his grandson and many of you do as well. Eric Curnutte is an Occupational Therapist in our Rehab and Wellness Department and although Eric stands on his own merits and deserves his own accolades this blog is about his Grandfather Virgil Ward. Eric had the honor of representing his Grandfather a few weeks ago at a Ranger Boat Event and that prompted me to share this story.
First a little more on Virgil. As I said Virgil hosted the nationally syndicated Championship Fishing TV Show for 25 years. For 21 of those years the show was the highest rated fishing show on TV and one year it was the highest rated syndicated show on television.
Over the years he had numerous celebrity guests on his show, here’s a small sample; Pete Rose, George Brett, Darrel Porter, Fred McMurray, Wayne Gretzky, Mel Tillis, Charlie Campbell and Stan Musial. Virgil was a pioneer in outdoor television and now there are actual channels dedicated to outdoor TV so it’s hard to guess how many careers were launched by Virgil.
I don’t have enough room, or time, to list all of Virgil’s accolades but here are a few. He is in the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, The International Fishing Hall of Fame, he is included in the Living Legends of American Sportfishing, received fishing’s highest honor the Dolphin Award and in 1975 then Missouri Governor Christopher S. Bond proclaimed October 19 as Virgil Ward Day in Missouri.
Now back to Eric. Ranger Boats is one of the premier bass boat manufacturers in the United States and the company was founded by Forrest L. Wood. Ranger’s motto is “We still build em one at a time” and Forrest L. Wood custom built a bass boat for Virgil Ward and Eric has since inherited the boat.
Recently there was a Ranger Boat reunion at a local Ranger Boat Dealer and Eric was invited to attend the event and meet Forrest L. Wood. Here are a couple of pictures from the event. That’s Eric, Forrest and the boat Forrest built just for Eric’s Grandpa, Virgil Ward.