Tuesday, July 15, 2003 | 9:41 a.m.
Lee Pete coughed heavily, and frequently, Monday night, but he didn't allow the cystic fibrosis in his lungs to keep him from repeating a message.
"I got lucky," Pete said, "I never had to work for a living."
The legendary voice of sports radio in Las Vegas left the business about 18 months ago, capping a 50-year run in radio that he began in Toledo.
Pete, 79, who ran two saloons and a gourmet restaurant in Toledo, retired when he was 48 and moved to Las Vegas. He joined "The Stardust Line," on KDWN 720-AM, in the mid-1970s and enjoyed a run until the late '80s.
The show aired nightly from 10-midnight.
"I had such a good time," Pete said. "If I had ever done Shakespeare, I would have been embarrassed. I didn't know what I was talking about half the time. And I never took any notes in my life.
"I could tell you the lineup of the '33 Senators, by memory. But no notes. We tried to have a boxer on once, but his manager wanted to know what I was going to ask him. I said, 'You better cancel.' "
At times, he spoke directly to the patrons driving in from Los Angeles.
"I'd tell them, 'There's 107 rooms left, and if you get here quickly you'll get a 10-percent discount,' " Pete said. "At a quarter to 12, management would tell me, 'No rooms left. All gone.'
"They've also told me that, when that show was going on, they would double their take ... in the millions of dollars. That's OK. I had the run of the hotel."
Pete spends his time taking care of himself and nursing his ill wife, Lila. He said a local mortician talked him into cremation.
"Don't laugh, he said. It sounds kind of sadistic, but I have two guys who will spread my ashes over a whorehouse. Never been in one.
"And I have no regrets."