The death of longtime news anchor Denise D’Ascenzo is being felt across the state, and many of her colleagues continue to pay tribute to her work and her life.
D’Ascenzo’s longtime broadcast partner at WFSB, Dennis House, fought back tears when he reported the news on Saturday’s broadcast, the night she died.
“On a personal note, she was my sister, my TV wife, my best friend here, and my co-anchor for 25 years,” he said.
In a video posted to WFSB's website, station general manager Dana Neves remembered starting at the station as an intern and first meeting D’Ascenzo.
“We were instantly friends,” she said. “TV’s daunting and it’s kind of scary when you’re an intern, and there’s this super-famous woman in the newsroom, and she’s the first person to come over. I will be forever thankful that I knew her.”
Station staff were given access to grief counselors after the Saturday evening death. “We’ll do this, we will get through, lean on each other, and remember all the good,” pledged Neves.
D’Ascenzo began anchoring WFSB’s Eyewitness News in 1986. CBS News anchor Gayle King shared her thoughts on the loss of her former colleague on air Monday morning as a video of the two working together in Connecticut ran on-screen.
"She was there for 33 years, I was there for 18. She won 11 Emmys in her career. Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont described her as a news legend, which is true,” said King.
King said she spoke with the family, who told her that D’Ascenzo felt some indigestion Saturday morning and that after taking antacid tablets, she went to bed -- but she never woke up. Her family believes that her death was due to a heart attack.
Duby McDowell was a political reporter at WFSB in the 1990s. Now she runs a local PR firm and maintains The Laurel, a blog that keeps tabs on the Connecticut media industry.
“She was just such a source of happiness in the newsroom, and I think the reason her colleagues are just devastated is that she was the team leader, the comforting mom -- everything that you want in a colleague,” McDowell told Connecticut Public Radio.
D’Ascenzo was 61. She leaves a husband and daughter.