(WTNH) — Denise D’Ascenzo, the longest-serving news anchor at WFSB and 11 time Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist, unexpectedly passed away Saturday.
For the past 25 years Denise has anchored alongside Dennis House. He rushed to her home after learning of her sudden death. She was 61.
Saturday evening, House announced the sad news on the air and offered a touching tribute.
“The grief we are all feeling is immeasurable,” House said. “We are devastated for her husband and daughter, who were really her whole life. On a personal note, my sister, my TV wife, my best friend here, and my co-anchor for 25 years.”
Denise first graced the Connecticut airways on WFSB in 1986 and has worked with them for the last 34 years.
She was the first woman inducted into the Connecticut Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.
News 8 offers our condolences to Denise’s family — and to our colleagues at WFSB.
WEB EXTRA: Tribute to the remarkable work and life of WFSB’s Denise D’Ascenzo
Denise frequently worked on health and medical reports that gave a unique inside look at hospitals and life-saving techniques. Her passion for health wasn’t confined to the studio – she supported countless non-profits and advocated for breast cancer, heart disease, obesity and disease prevention awareness.
One of the charities she dedicated herself to was Mary’s Place, a Windsor nonprofit that helps children dealing with grief.
“She just said I want to do everything I can to help, and for 13 years she was our mistress of ceremonies at the gala.”– John Carmon, Founder, Mary’s Place
Connecticut officials offered their sympathies soon after the news was announced.
Governor Lamont saying, “The news of her passing is incredibly saddening, and I extend by deepest condolences to Denise’s family, friends, and colleagues at WFSB.”
“As the longest-serving news anchor at a single television station in Connecticut, Denise D’Ascenzo has entered millions of homes in our state for more than thirty years. Through her dedicated work and dependable reporting, she earned the distinction of being a trusted name in journalism, and her reporting most certainly made an impact.
The work journalists provide is a vital public service, and through her career, Denise dedicated herself to the people of Connecticut. The news of her passing is incredibly saddening, and I extend my deepest condolences to Denise’s family, friends, and colleagues at WFSB. She is undoubtedly a Connecticut news legend. “– Governor Ned Lamont
The Hartford Police Department posting on twitter, “We are deeply shocked and saddened by this news. We grieve with you.”
Senator Chris Murphy lamenting, “Connecticut has had no greater or more important cheerleader than Denise D’Ascenzo.”
From the WTNH family, Anchor Brian Spyros mourned the loss of a former mentor, saying of Denise, “She was a mentor to me and one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.”
Beginning Sunday morning, viewers have been leaving flowers at the WFSB studios sign in Hartford as a tribute to Denise.
WTNH Reporter Samaia Hernandez said of her brief time working with Denise last year, “I was one of those younger journalist whom Denise encouraged and supported…and I tell everyone she’s one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met in a newsroom.”
News 8’s Ann Nyberg saying, “She touched so many lives, so many generations. And that’s why it’s being felt across the state.”
She was in everyone’s home every night for so long, viewers came to feel like she was their friend.
As Storm Team 8’s Joe Furey tells it, after hearing of her loss, a WFSB viewer told him “‘Denise was my friend,’ and they’d never met her.”
News 8’s Darren Kramer adding, “What a class act she was.”
Denise’s daughter, Catherine, is set to graduate Cornell next year. Friends say she was so looking forward to celebrating that achievement.