David Courtney was remembered Friday as a devoted son, husband and brother as well as a passionate Kings fan whose love for hockey became a central theme of his life.
Courtney, who began working for the Kings as a 14-year-old intern in 1971 and became their public address announcer in 1989, died Nov. 29 at 56. His family held a private service earlier this week but invited friends and co-workers to celebrate his life Friday at a gathering in Redondo Beach. The result was more than a few tears and plenty of laughter.
Kings games won’t be the same without his warm, clear voice and the smiling presence that reflected his generous spirit, but this loss extends far beyond Staples Center.
As a youngster Courtney officiated kids’ games for the pure love of the sport, and some of those players attended Friday’s memorial. In his job with the Kings he frequently interacted with the NHL’s on-ice officials, who were represented on Friday by linesman Shane Heyer and former referee Rob Shick.
Many Kings executives and off-ice officials were there, too, sitting together in a bright room decorated with pictures of Courtney and his wife, Janet Fisher, whom he married only two years ago. Courtney also did public address announcements for the Clippers and the Angels and was a morning traffic reporter on various local radio stations, and all of his worlds were represented in a heartfelt celebration of his life.
Mike Hope, a former Kings publicist, told of hiring the eager youngster in Los Angeles and later bringing Courtney to Houston to work for the Aeros, a move that enabled Courtney to blossom personally and professionally. Bob Miller, the Kings’ longtime TV voice, also recalled Courtney’s willingness to do any job asked of him; Miller’s voice broke as he spoke, and his audience shared his sorrow.
Most touching was the tribute paid by Courtney’s younger brother, John, a vice president at CNN and an Atlanta resident. Shunning the microphone, John Courtney told the overflow crowd about the “full-body” pillow fights he and his brother engaged in while they were kids and shared a room, battles that David always won. John had to pause to regain his composure several times while he spoke but drew laughter when he told of David’s strong character at school. “He got commendations. I got detentions,” John said.
John shared his brother’s affection for hockey, though he noted that David, as always, one-upped him last season. David’s team won the Stanley Cup, John said, “and my team moved to Winnipeg. Score one for David.”
Score this one for David, too: John said he had to return to Atlanta on Saturday because his 10-year-old son, inspired to become a hockey goalie by his Uncle David, has a game to play. David Courtney's voice was silenced but his spirit lives on.