Long-time Atlanta Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren left behind more than a legacy.
From winning the Georgia Sportscaster of the Year Award more than a handful of times to writing a cleverly-titled book, there is no question Van Wieren had an impressive career, which his wife of 50 years, Elaine Van Wieren, of Johns Creek, said he loved every bit of it.
“When Ernie (Johnson) hired him he told me, I remember when we came here, he said ‘I’ve got the job that I’ve always dreamed about’ and he said ‘I’m going to turn everything else over to you,’” she said. “And he did so that he could devote himself to that.”
She said the Rochester, N.Y. native who attended Cornell especially loved the 1991 season, the year they went from “worst to first.”
“He would even say that that season was so much fun,” she said.
She said he turned down more than one opportunity to go somewhere else because he was Braves to the core, because he, Johnson and Skip Caray were a team and because he had an enormous amount of respect for Ted Turner.
His oldest son Jon Van Wieren of Atlanta said his father respected anyone who did his job well.
“That’s from a bartender to another broadcaster to a CEO,” he said. “It didn’t matter, if you did your job well and worked hard, he respected you.”
Pete Van Wieren, 69, of Johns Creek, died Saturday of complications from lymphoma. A memorial service is planned for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Roswell Funeral Home, which handled cremation arrangements.
“I don’t think maybe a lot of people would know about his impressive reading,” Elaine Van Wieren said noting the two rooms full of material he never got around to reading. “(And) if you were playing trivial pursuit you would want Pete on your team.”
She said “The Professor” was an avid poker player with a deep love for Jeopardy.
“It turned out people think that it’s The Professor because he is so smart and because of his very strong work ethic but really Ernie gave him that name because he looked like somebody that Ernie knew,” she said of the popular nickname. “I just found that out too.”
She said Pete Van Wieren, of all of his life’s accomplishments, was proudest of his family, especially his three granddaughters.
He was a frequent spectator at his 13-year-old granddaughter Grace’s traveling league soccer team games, and had a close connection with his eldest granddaughter 16-year-old Chaney. Elaine Van Wieren said he also loved to play with his youngest grandchild, 5-year-old Becca.
“We had our 50th wedding anniversary and we took the whole family to Atlantis in the Bahamas and that was in June,” she said. “We had a great time.”
Jon Van Wieren said he remembers when he was young accompanying his dad on trips across the country.
“He took me to Cooperstown to the baseball hall of fame. It was amazing,” he said with a laugh. “He knew so much about so many of the players that I sort of got the grand tour with the inside scoop.”
In addition to his wife, son and three granddaughters, Pete Van Wieren is survived by his son, Steve Van Wieren of Cumming and Steve’s wife, Starla, who was like a daughter to him.
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