Museum President Warren Calvin “Cal” Purviance succumbs at 90.
The President of the Modesto Radio Museum group, and tireless community supporter, Cal Purviance, died Sunday January 23, 2011 at the Alexander Cohen Hospice House in Hughson after a long illness. He was of 90.
Cal was born Warren Calvin Purviance on Aug. 15, 1920, in Exeter, CA in Tulare County. He graduated from Santa Cruz, CA high school in 1938 where he developed his interest in broadcasting from classes offered at the school. He joined the Navy a week before Pearl Harbor in 1941 and left the service in 1947 as a radio man first-class. He moved to Modesto from Southern California in June of 1951 and was hired as an announcer/engineer at radio station KTRB. In all, he spent 38 years at KTRB finally retiring completely in 1990.
People would say they milked their cows while listening to Cal on KTRB in the mornings. Others would say their cows would not give milk until they heard Cal or Bill Bates (owner of KTRB) on the air in the mornings. Cal had his own show, “Cal, Your Birthday Pal” and often filled in on the “Old Time Tunes” program hosted by his mentor, and boss, Bill Bates. Following Bates’ death in 1969, Cal took over Bates’ show keeping it on the air for many more years. He became the host of KTRB’s Tots and Teens talent show beginning in early ’50s through the 1980’s.
One of Cal’s fond memories was the time he was ordered by Bill Bates to fire Chester Smith, who was a Country music DJ at KTRB, because Bates found out that Smith was planning to leave KTRB in 1963 to build his own radio station. Cal often remarked about being the only person to ever fire Smith who went onto to be a multi millionaire broadcaster.
Cal was a tireless community supporter. His civic work included being chairman of Modesto’s annual Fourth of July celebration for two decades and donated his time and efforts to the celebration for almost 40 years. He helped produce, and served as the Master of Ceremonies, for the “Miss Modesto” pageants. He served as a Kiwanis Club President and as a Methodist lay leader.
He served on the Board of Directors for Doctors Medical Center and Community Hospice. He also found time to serve on the Modesto City Planning Commission and other civic boards. He was an member of the Civil Air Patrol headquartered in Modesto and a licensed pilot. His most memorable search was in November of 1968 when he coordinated the search for the missing plane carrying Fred C. Beyer, Stanislaus County Superintendent of Schools.
Cal enjoyed traveling and “ham” radio. He held Amateur Radio license K6BII. He used the amusing phonetics “K6 Big Indian Investigator” to identified his call sign.
Cal and his wife Betty loved to travel and after his retirement they traveled over 18,000 miles on vacations and visited 39 states and 5 Canadian provinces.
In 2004 Cal was instrumental in the effort to build a broadcast radio museum in Modesto to be housed in the former KTRB studios on Norwegian Ave, He formed a core group of present and former broadcasters in the area to work on the museum project and the group became known as the Modesto Radio Museum organization, owners of this website, which was created to support the project. The recession and the economic downturn proved fatal for the physical plans for the museum and the group’s efforts then turned to support of this website. He was elected President of the museum group and held that position till his death.
Cal is survived by his wife Elizabeth “Betty” Purviance, children Gregg Purviance, Laurie Henson, Brad Zais, Craig Zais and Vann Nichelini, 8 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. Services were held at Centenary Methodist Church, in Modesto, CA on Thursday January 27, 2011. He was laid to rest at the family plot in Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma, CA.