Memorial service held for late award-winning, long-time WFSB anchor Denise D’Ascenzo


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A memorial service was held Wednesday for long-time, award-winning WFSB anchor Denise D’Ascenzo, who passed away in December.

RELATED: Connecticut mourns the sudden death of longest-serving WFSB news anchor, Denise D’Ascenzo

The memorial service took place at the Connecticut Convention Center at 1 p.m. A beloved friend, mentor and television broadcaster, Denise passed away unexpectedly on Dec. 7, 2019 after suffering a heart attack. She was 61.

Denise warmed hearts with her soft commanding voice and charm for decades.

Dennis House, Denise’s co-anchor at WFSB for over 25 years, got emotional looking into the audience Wednesday, saying, “Some of the most well-known people in Connecticut are here because Denise touched their lives in some way and meant so much to all of us and our entire state.”

Denise loved telling stories and having fun. A lot of family videos and oldies-but-goodies from the video archives of WFSB were played at the memorial showing Denise laughing and dancing.

She achieved a dual major from Syracuse University in broadcast journalism and political science.

Wednesday, dignitaries, sports icons, and colleagues – including News 8 friends and her former co-anchors – paid their respects.

“Always classy and uncomplicated and always so herself.”

– Gayle King, CBS

Denise was also revered by many – including those in the highest elected office.

“She loved Connecticut. It was small enough to be family, but big enough to be interesting.”

– Governor Ned Lamont

The Governor announced that Jan. 30, 2020 — Denise’s birthday — will be named Denise D’Ascenzo Day in the state of Connecticut. Read the announcement here: Official Statement from Governor Lamont.

Denise is survived by her husband, Wayne Cooke, and daughter, Kathryn, of Branford.

D’Ascenzo began at WFSB-TV in 1986. She has been honored with two Edward R. Murrow awards, seven Associated Press awards, and a national Gabriel Award. In 2013, Denise was elected to the Silver Circle, a prestigious honor bestowed by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for significant contributions to broadcasting.

Two years later, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Connecticut Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. Denise was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Quinnipiac University.

A foundation has been set up in her name to carry on Denise’s passionate efforts to support advances in medicine and health, women’s and children’s issues, and journalism studies:

WEB EXTRA: Tribute to the remarkable work and life of WFSB’s Denise D’Ascenzo

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