In Memoriam: Elbert Chance
September 20, 2016
Former alumni director, voice of Blue Hens Elbert Chance remembered
T. Elbert Chance, a University of Delaware alumnus, long-time director of alumni relations and the voice of the Fightin’ Blue Hens for 49 years, died Sept. 8 at Millcroft Senior Living in Newark, Delaware. He was 90.
Former Delaware Athletic Director Edgar Johnson called Mr. Chance "a 'one of a kind' loyal Blue Hen," saying that "he loved UD, devoted his life to working for it and helped preserve the history and tradition of Delaware football. His 100 years of Delaware Football is a colllector's item filled with wonderful anecdotes and facts on football's storied past, players and coaches.
"For 40-plus years, his wonderful voice as stadium announcer was synonymous with Blue Hen football," Johnson said. "You knew it was a football Saturday when you heard him say, 'Welcome to Delaware Stadium' to start the day's announcements ... and proceedings. When he stopped announcing, it just wasn't the same. A little piece of our past and remembered glory was lost.
"Elbert was Blue Hen family ... Elbert was a fan ... Elbert was us. He will be missed, but his memory and contributions live on," Johnson said.
A career devoted to UD
Mr. Chance earned his bachelor’s degree in theatre in 1952 and his master’s degree in history in 1959, both at the University. From 1952-54, he served as assistant to the director of public relations and as the sports information director.
While he was serving as sports information director, then University President John Perkins approached him about announcing Blue Hen football games. Mr. Chance became the exclusive voice of the Fightin’ Blue Hens, serving in that role for 49 years until he stepped down in 2002. Throughout that time, he missed just five games. He also announced the University of Delaware Marching Band shows and was made an honorary member of the band in the 1970s.
Mr. Chance served as director of public relations from 1954-56 and headed the combined offices of Public and Alumni Relations from 1956-59. In 1959, he was named director of the Office of Alumni Relations, a position he held until he retired in 1985.
In 1984, Mr. Chance received the Outstanding Alumni Award, and he was named to UD’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001 and to the Alumni Wall of Fame in 2003.
A talented writer and researcher, he wrote countless articles and stories on the history of Delaware athletics, as well as three popular book on UD football: A Brief History of Football at the University of Delaware, 1889-1963; coauthored with John Garvick; Blue Hen Chronicles, published in 1983; and One Hundred Years of Delaware Football, published in 1989 by the University of Delaware Press.
The Elbert Chance Papers, housed in Special Collections at the University of Delaware Library, include copies of “Newark As It Was,” a weekly column he wrote for the Wilmington News Journal from 1987-1992, as well as speech he wrote on the 50th anniversary of Newark High School’s Class of1943.
From 1997-2007, Mr. Chance edited the newsletter of the University of Delaware Association of Retired Faculty.
Proud son of the First State
Born July 21, 1926 in Wilmington, Delaware, Mr. Chance was educated in the Wilmington public schools, graduating from Conrad High School in 1944. He studied vocal performance at the Delaware Music Academy and Curtis Institute of Music. After military service in 1945-46, he studied at the University of Delaware.
From the 1950s through the 1970s, Mr. Chance was the "go-to" baritone in New Castle County, performing with the Brandywiners, the Arden Singers, the Wilmington Chorale, the Breck's Mill Cronies, the Wilmington Opera Society, the choir of Christ Episcopal Church in Greenville and numerous other church, musical, and theatrical organizations. He received OperaDelaware's W.W. Laird Award in 1991 for his contribution to the vocal arts in Delaware.
An avid golfer, he served in many capacities on the board of Newark Country Club. He also served on the board of the Newark Senior Center.
He was married twice, first in 1954 to Janet Bardo, and second in 1982 to Prudence Wyatt Leahy; both survive him.
Mr. Chance is survived by two daughters from his first marriage, Susan Chance-Rainwater and Karen L. Chance; and by two step-daughters from his second marriage, Margaret Leahy and Christine Leahy. A third step-daughter, Patricia Leahy McAllister, died in 2004.
Services will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, Sept. 22, at First Presbyterian Church of Newark, 292 West Main St., Newark, with a visitation beginning at 10 a.m.. Burial will follow at Head of Christiana cemetery in Newark.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Newark Senior Center. Condolences may be left online.