LIMA — Local TV and radio sports icon Vince Koza died Friday morning after a three-month battle with cancer. He was 60.
His daughter, Brittany Koza, made the announcement on a CaringBridge.org page dedicated to updates on his fight against Stage 4 cancer. She wrote he died at 4:55 a.m. Friday, surrounded by his family.
“He fought so so hard, but there was just too much cancer,” Brittany Koza wrote. “It overtook his lungs, and he just couldn’t breathe anymore. His heart was strong, but it was just too much work. I know he fought as hard as he could for as long as he could, and that towards the end he was purely fighting for my mom, my sister and me.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Koza moved to Lima in 1980 after graduating from Ohio University and was a strong voice in local sports beginning at WLIO-TV as sports director for 27 years. In 2008, he moved over to radio full time at 93.1 The Fan, where he did high school play-by-play and had a daily talk show, “SportsTalk with Koza,” up until his cancer diagnosis in October. He was inducted into the Associated Press Ohio Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2007.
“Unfortunately, our dear friend @thekoz931 passed away this morning after his 3-month battle with cancer,” 93.1 The Fan tweeted. “Please keep his wife, Holly (Geaman), and his daughters Brittany and Sarah in your prayers.”
Matt Childers, former owner of Childers Media Group LLC, which includes 93.1, said he got a call Thursday he should come to The James Cancer Hospital.
“A dear friend of he and I called and said, ‘Matt you may want to get down there and see him,’” Childers said. “Something was pulling me there yesterday — I was told that at 3 in the afternoon and was in Columbus by 5, and I stayed there last night and I’m so glad that I did. I’m so grateful I was able to share that time with him.”
Bob Seggerson, head coach at Lima Central Catholic for more than 40 years, crossed paths with Koza throughout their entire careers. He remembers Koza started out as a young and hungry reporter who went on to create a legacy that will not easily be filled.
“I think he had an impact on sports coverage, especially at the high school level,” Seggerson said. “When he went to radio and began doing his sports talk show and play-by-play coverage, which was his real love, obviously every coach within 10 counties of Lima crossed paths with Vince Koza for years and years, and we appreciated what he meant to sports. He wove himself into the fabric of high school sports and changed the way they are covered. His impact on the community will be felt for a long time, and it spreads well beyond the boundaries of Lima.”
The Lima News sportswriter Jim Naveau was another who worked alongside Koza for the last 40 years.
“Besides covering many of the same games for the last 30 years or more I was a regular guest on his show for many years to talk about Ohio State football. I always enjoyed that,” Naveau said. “Vince’s style might have been a little unconventional but it was unconventional in a good way. Years ago I said to someone that ‘SportsTalk With Koza’ was just different on the days he wasn’t there. His energy and personality carried the show. Whoever follows him will have big shoes to fill.”
In announcing her father’s death, Brittany Koza expressed her family’s gratitude for the community’s support, which included numerous cancer fundraisers.
“Thank you all for your kindness, love and support,” she wrote. “I know he felt it, and I know it meant the world to him. He loved you all. He loved Lima. And it was amazing to see how much you all loved him back. Thank you for giving him that gift.”