Radio legend Mountjoy passes away at 61
Charlotesville radio veteran Dick Mountjoy passed away this afternoon at age 61, after a two-year struggle with cancer.
"He died very peacefully, and he died knowing people cared for him," says his longtime WINA co-host, Jane Foy.
For four decades, Mountjoy had been an institution on the central Virginia airwaves: first spinning Top 40 hits on local AM station WELK in June 1965 as a 19-year-old UVA first year. Soon he climbed the radio ranks to become the station's programming director, and even became one of Charlottesville's first television personalities, reading the news when NBC29 first began broadcasting. When WELK disappeared in the wave of new FM music stations, Mountjoy made the transition to morning talk on WINA-AM, where he remained until 2006.
That's when he began to experience a sore throat that wouldn't go away. After several alleged missed diagnoses, doctors eventually found a large cancerous tumor at the base of his tongue. When radiation and chemotherapy treatments failed, the most famous voice in Charlottesville elected to have his tongue and voicebox removed last spring in an attempt to stem the cancer's spread.
For the last year of his life, Mountjoy communicated exclusively through writing and typing, a tragic irony not lost on the lifelong radio man. But he told the Hook in October that he didn't regret the decision.
"That voice served me well for all the best years of my life," he typed. "But I had given 41 years to the radio microphone. I was fearless about death, I embraced every moment of life, and, God bless me, my brain still functioned."
Before undergoing the surgery that would render him mute, Mountjoy did manage to communicate that in some ways the disease had made him a better man:
"I have accepted love from people I didn't know were there, I have expressed love to people I did not express before, and it has helped to make my last few months unforgettable," he said, trying to enunciate each word as well as his failing jaw and tongue would allow. "So, in my particular case, I do not necessarily hope for a cure for cancer for me, because, in truth, simply put, in my life, cancer has cured me."
Mountjoy was 61 years old.