The death of Santa Rosa's Harry Troutt deprives the San Francisco 49ers of their No. 1 fan — officially.
Through 50 faithful years, players and coaches and others throughout the 49ers organization came to treat Troutt and his wife, Kitten, as family. One unforgettable day a decade ago, a Candlestick Park crowd roared its approval as the team declared Troutt its ultimate fan.
"We did not miss a game, period," Kitty Troutt said Thursday. After her husband's failing health forced them to sell their season tickets in 2006 — "Nothing on the planet harder," he once said of that decision — the couple went to games when he felt up to it and otherwise watched at home with five TVs on, including the one in the bathroom.
Troutt and his wife went to all five of the 49ers' Super Bowl wins, he served three times as president of a San Francisco chapter of the boosters club, he dressed himself and his Santa Rosa mobile home in red and gold, and in 2003 he was inducted into the VISA Hall of Fans, a wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
Forty-Niners Hall of Famer Bob St. Clair of Santa Rosa recalls going often with teammates to the Troutts' penthouse apartment on Sixth Avenue after a game.
"There was always a party there," said St. Clair, who played with the team from 1953 to '63. "We'd either cry in our beer or celebrate in our booze."
Troutt, he said, "was just one of the guys."
Troutt's wife said that after living for years with kidney failure, the aftermath of a stroke and other maladies, he simply wore to a stop July 11. He died after an ambulance ride to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.
He was 77.
Troutt was born in Philadelphia and came to San Francisco while serving with the Air Force in 1959. The former Kitten Quintanilla, a San Francisco native, remembers spotting him at a cocktail lounge on Divisadero Street in 1962.
She'd already decided he was the man for her, she said, when he stepped up and said, "My name is Harry Troutt and I want you to remember that name because in six weeks, that will be your name."
Six weeks later, Kitten was Mrs. Harry Troutt. She was the more avid 49er fan in the new family, having grown up accompanying her dad to games at Kezar Stadium.
But her new husband had taken to the home team, too. When season tickets went on sale for the new Candlestick Park in 1971, the two of them waited in a line for hours to claim a pair.
Troutt said to his wife, "See these tickets? We are going to have them forever."
Through the next 35 years, they were in place in Seats 5 and 6, Row 16, Section 3, for every home game.
As the gregarious leader of one of the San Francisco chapters of the 49ers Booster Club, Troutt met and befriended former team owner Eddie DeBartolo and members of the organization from the lowliest ticket taker to superstars the likes of quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young.
The Troutts opened their home to the team, taking in rookies like homesick summer-campers.
"That is where all the 49ers would come to party," Kitten Troutt said. "They would crash in our 49er room. The bar was always stocked. The refrigerator was always stocked."