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Hokie Gajan, ex-Saints fullback, radio voice, dies at 56 of cancer

NEW ORLEANS -- The New Orleans Saints family lost another all-time great Monday when former fullback, scout and longtime color analyst Hokie Gajan died at the age of 56.

Gajan had been battling a cancer called Liposarcoma since last fall.

Sadly, both Gajan and Will Smith were the two members elected for enshrinement into the Saints Hall of Fame last month -- Smith as a player and Gajan as a contributor. The announcement was planned for May.

Gajan was proud to have called Louisiana home throughout his entire football career, from Baker High School in his hometown to LSU to the Saints from 1981-87.

Saints owners Tom and Gayle Benson issued a statement Tuesday.

"Hokie Gajan was a true New Orleans Saint, as a player, a valued member of our scouting staff and later as a broadcaster," the statement said. "Overall, he impacted our whole organization and had a special relationship with our fans for 36 years. We will miss Hokie dearly and our thoughts and prayers go out to Judy, their four daughters and the entire Gajan family."

Gajan tallied just 1,358 rushing yards, 515 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in four seasons (three other years were wiped out by injuries). But his career rushing average of 5.4 yards per carry ranks first in franchise history among all running backs with at least 250 carries.

His 6.0 yards per carry on 102 carries in 1984 led the NFL.

Gajan perhaps will be remembered most fondly as one of the Saints' radio voices. He joined WWL Radio as a color analyst in 2000 and brought his down-home Louisiana style to the broadcasts.

According to WWL's report, Gajan is survived by his wife Judy and daughters Jennifer, Kristin, Megan and Alexis (Peanut).

"I loved him dearly," Gajan's longtime broadcast partner, Jim Henderson, told WWL. "He's one of the best people ... so true and genuine; he's one of the most original people I've ever met. There were no acts, or anything false about Hokie. Everything you see is very true with him."