Steve Bisheff, who had a 42-year career as a sportswriter and columnist in Southern California, died Wednesday, March 22.

He was 81.

Bisheff wrote for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and for the San Diego Union-Tribune before joining the Orange County Register as a sports columnist. He retired from the Register in 2006.

He wrote many books. John Wooden, whom Bisheff got to know when he covered UCLA basketball for the Herald-Examiner, was a favorite subject.

Bisheff had battled cancer for the past three years, first being diagnosed with leukemia and later colon cancer.

He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Marsha, sons Scott and Greg, daughter Julie and grandson Wes. Services are pending.

Bisheff, a longtime resident of Irvine, was known as a sports fans’ sports columnist and that pleased him.

In his farewell column published in The Register in November of 2006, Bisheff wrote:

“I always felt my mission was to be the fan’s conduit, having access to clubhouses and locker rooms they couldn’t visit. It was my job to ask the questions they’d want to ask, to probe the issues they were talking and thinking about.”

Former Register sports columnist Mark Whicker, who worked with Bisheff for many years, said Bisheff was a fine teammate.

“He was an excellent columnist,” Whicker said. “Always current, always had a great feel for what was going on, and he had such a great history with the teams here and of course with the Chargers, too, when he was in San Diego. He had a great sense of humor, he was very proud of his family, and he was very well respected.”

In that farewell column, Bisheff looked back at the many moments he witnessed and chronicled in person …

“I was there for all of it. I covered Wooden and Auerbach. Koufax and Gibson. Ali and Frazier. Unitas and Montana.

“From the best seat in the house, I watched Reggie Jackson and Reggie Bush. Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. Gary Beban and Matt Leinart. Bruce Jenner and Greg Louganis. Affirmed and Barbaro.”

Even in retirement, Bisheff continued to write. Bisheff’s Facebook posts about sports were really just Bisheff columns.

Bisheff’s farewell column included his memory of being a 13-year-old at the Los Angeles Coliseum for a Rams game and, looking up at the writers in the press box, figuring that being in that press box would be a very cool job.

“It’s funny, but the other day, sitting in the Coliseum before a USC game, I looked out into the stands and found myself drifting back all those years ago to when I was that crewcut teenager pointing up to the press box.

“I smiled and shook my head at the memory. I know I was very naive back then, but I was right about one thing.

“This has been a very cool job.”