During the early days of legendary sportscaster Myron Cope's call-in show on WTAE radio, he would get semi-regular calls from a character named "Lance Boil." Boil would jumpstart the show by talking about everything from Steelers football to Cope's Pittsburgh accent.
"Lance Boil" wasn't real, but rather a persona put on by Cope's friend and neighbor Frank J. Haller. True to his nature, Mr. Haller was simply trying to help his friend get a start in the broadcasting industry.
Mr. Haller died at his Scott home Wednesday after a brief battle with cancer. He was 82.
"[He was ] one of the most intelligent, wittiest, and I'd say forgiving people I've ever known," Mr. Haller's longtime friend Bud Stevenson said. "It's really a loss."
After a stint in the military during the Korean War, Mr. Haller settled in Pittsburgh and began work as a writer at BBDO advertising agency. Dan Torisky, who met Mr. Haller while the two were stationed overseas, worked alongside him at BBDO and remembered a man who seemed born to be an advertising writer.
"He was probably the single most creative writer that I have ever known," Mr. Torisky said.
Away from the office, though, Mr. Torisky described Mr. Haller as "a best friend to everybody that ever knew him."
An avid golfer, Mr. Haller decided in 1981 to start a charity golf tournament with Cope and former Pitt coach Foge Fazio. That year, the trio founded the event now known as the Cope/Fazio Memorial Golf Tournament at Montour Heights Country Club.
Since its inception, the event has raised more than $1.5 million for the Autism Society of Pittsburgh.
Cope and Mr. Torisky both had sons with autism, and Mr. Haller wanted to help his friends however he could.
"When Myron died, when Foge died, who's the guy that kept that tournament going? Frank Haller," Mr. Torisky said.
"And you never heard of him. He'd never stand up and take credit. Even at the event, at the banquet after the event, all these celebrities are there and you'd want Frank to come up and say a few words. He wouldn't. He refused to take credit for anything. He just quietly worked and is the most unselfish man I've ever known in my life."
One of Mr. Haller's commitments in his later years was organizing a monthly gathering of all the old advertising men who lived in Pittsburgh. The group gathered at Atria's in Mt. Lebanon and swapped tales about their times in the business.
"We'd tell stories," Mr. Stevenson said. "A lot of funny things that happened with different clients. Just conversation, most of it was laughter."
Mr. Haller is survived by his wife, Juliet, and four children. Friends will be welcomed at Laughlin Memorial Chapel in Mt. Lebanon Sunday from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Mass will be celebrated in SS. Simon & Jude Church, Scott, Monday at 9:45 a.m.
Sam Werner: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SWernerPG.