Dan Braillard, longtime ‘Voice of the Patriots,’ dies

November 1, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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By Greg Farrar
Dan Braillard’s daughters Kim Straight and Michelle Munson (from left), with their aunt and his sister Joanne, stand during the National Anthem on the field Oct. 5 beneath his announcer’s booth of nearly three decades.

There are certain things that make the atmosphere at a Liberty High School football game special.

The smell of burgers sizzling on the grill, the sea of blue-and -green clad fans, the music of the band filling the stadium and, most distinctly, the sound of Patriot announcer Dan Braillard’s voice echoing through the night, all made the Friday night lights shine a little bit brighter.

“Friday night at Liberty was kind of a production,” Liberty coach Steve Valach said. “Dan used that microphone as a way to just enhance the whole experience. It was kind of like a Shakespearean performance.”

Braillard, who spent 25 years announcing Liberty football games and 15 years calling Patriot basketball games, died of kidney failure on Oct. 1. He was 66.

As the “Voice of the Patriots,” Braillard was fair and original. He loved Liberty, but he also worked to call a fair game for both teams on the field, Valach said.

After Sept. 11, before every game, Braillard would ask the fans to stand and honor the servicemen and servicewomen stationed around the world with a moment of silence. It became Braillard’s signature call.

“I would get a lot of comments from other schools, calls the next day, telling me what a wonderful job he did,” said George Vanni, the former Liberty High School athletic director.

Braillard was never paid to announce a game, but that didn’t matter to him, said Michelle Munson, Braillard’s daughter and a teacher at Liberty High School.

“He never wanted anything,” she said. “He just was always there on a Friday night to be a part of the environment and a part of the community.”

For Braillard, there was nothing better than sitting down in the bowl that is Liberty’s field, watching the sun set and rooting for the Patriots, Munson said.

“It just filled him with a sense of pride and excitement to be able to watch these young kids,” she said.

The Liberty announcer was positive and optimistic, Valach said, even when the team was struggling.

“He always had something good and encouraging to say, and I think he was like that with a lot of people,” Valach said.

But at the heart of it all, Braillard was a family man and in addition to his wife and three children, he had a family of Patriots.

“His family was very important to him and I think Liberty was just an extension of his family,” Vanni said.

The Braillard family is a Liberty High School institution and it all started with Dan and his wife Irene. All three of the couple’s children graduated from the school, and Irene worked at the school until she retired a few years ago.

The Braillards were active in the school’s PTSA and the drama program, in addition to athletics.

The reason Braillard worked so tirelessly to support Liberty High School was because of the sense of community the school offered to his family, Munson said.

“I think he just loved being a Patriot,” she said. “He just loved what the community gave to his family. It gave us home, it gave us comfort and it gave us security.”

It’s safe to say that Liberty football games will never quite be the same without Braillard, Valach said.

But the mark that Braillard left on Liberty athletics pales in comparison to the impact the school’s community left on him, Munson said.

“He exemplified what Friday night was at Liberty High School,” she said. “You go to a football game, that spirit, that pride and that excitement for the blue and green, that was Dad. Dad brought that to life with his voice and his exuberance and his love for the Patriots.”

Braillard is survived by his wife Irene; their three children, Michelle, Kim and Patrick; and three grandchildren, Lorelli, Alexander and Calvin.

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