Tom Bolden, better known to listeners of "The Village Idiots" on WGOW-FM 102.3 as Wally Witkowski, died Monday at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. He had been battling cancer.
Callers to the station on Tuesday remembered Bolden for his humor as Witkowski, especially when it came to saying the unexpected, and for his kind heart.
One caller remembered meeting President George Bush and first lady Barbara Bush along with Bolden when the former first couple visited AT&T Field when it opened. The caller said Bolden reached out to Mrs. Bush and said, "Hello, Babbs. How are ya?"
Bolden is survived by his wife Gaye, a son and a daughter.
Bill Lockhart, assistant program director at WGOW, had worked with Bolden as Witkowski since 1996.
"What a great talent and what a comedic genius," he said. "Where two or more gathered together, he was performing. He filled up the room, the stage, the screen, whatever, he filled it up.
"He was one of the funniest men I've ever been in contact with. We will miss him."
Both Lockhart and on-air personality Jeff Styles said Bolden was far smarter than the character he played on the radio.
"He represented every- man," Styles said. "That was his role. He understood that.
"He played that role, but he was very smart. I bet he read more books in the last month than the rest of us all year combined."
Both men also said Bolden was a soft touch when it came to people in need.
"He was just a softie," Styles said. "He was very, very sensitive, and you wouldn't know it until you somehow got to the place where he was hurting."
Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...