Original Trail Blazer Dale Schlueter Passes Away After Battle With Cancer

Schlueter Served as Team Ambassador in Community

PORTLAND, Ore. (July 24, 2014) – A beloved figure among former Portland Trail Blazers players and a member of the original team from the inaugural 1970-71 season has lost his battle with cancer.  Dale Schlueter, one of the first centers to wear the Trail Blazers uniform, died today at his home surrounded by family and loved ones at age 68. 

A Pacific Northwest native, Schlueter was first drafted into the NBA out of Colorado State University in 1967 by the San Francisco

Dale Schlueter

Dale Schlueter 1945-2014

Warriors.  He was later acquired by the expansion Trail Blazers in 1970 and played under the team’s first coach, Rolland Todd.  That first Trail Blazers team finished 29-53 -- the best of the three new teams entering the NBA that same year (Buffalo and Cleveland).  Schlueter averaged 8.2 points and was the team’s second-leading rebounder with a total of 629.  Overall, Schlueter played three seasons for the Trail Blazers, 1970-72, and 1977-78. 

Schlueter retired from professional sports in 1978, but remained an active member of the Trail Blazers family through his work in the community.  As recently as last season, Schlueter still frequently led Trail Blazers ambassadors and alumni on appearances and fan visits around the Moda Center on game nights.  He often represented the franchise at charitable events around the city.  His calm demeanor, warm smile and welcome handshake were his trademarks and made him a local favorite. 

 “We have lost a true Trail Blazers original, and someone whose dedication to our organization and the Portland community knew no limits,” said Chris McGowan, President & CEO of the Trail Blazers and Moda Center.  “Dale represented a very special era for the Trail Blazers when our team was first establishing its foothold in Portland and the Pacific Northwest.  We will miss him and his commitment to being the personification of the name Trail Blazer.”

PHOTOS: Dale Schlueter 1945-2014

“He was one of our original players, which affords Dale a special place in Trail Blazers history,” said Trail Blazers Founder Harry Glickman. “For the vast majority of professional athletes, one of the best rewards is personally knowing when you’ve done your very best.  Dale gave his ultimate effort every time he played.  He was a great Trail Blazer.”

"Dale was a living salute to those original days when the NBA first burst upon the scene in Portland and across the state of Oregon,” said legendary Trail Blazers broadcaster Bill Schonely.  “You could always count on Dale and his wife Jeni to support the outreach efforts that have made the Trail Blazers so beloved in our community.  I counted him as a dear friend, and will miss him immensely. Dale was a no-nonsense player and a throwback to the great days of our sport.  He played the game as it should be played.  This was indeed his life -- the Portland Trail Blazers.”

Information about a celebration of life for Schlueter and other arrangements is still forthcoming from the Schlueter family and the Trail Blazers.