PBS news anchor Gwen Ifill, known for her longtime reporting on politics and foreign affairs, has died of cancer, the network confirmed to Fox News. She was 61.

"It is with extreme sadness that we share the news that Gwen Ifill passed away earlier today surrounded by family and friends," said PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger. "... Our sorrow at her passing is a part of our profound gratitude for all that she did for our system and our nation. It was an honor to know Gwen and to work with her. All of us at PBS express our sincere condolences to Gwen's friends and family."

The New York City native began her career as a newspaper journalist. In 1999 she joined PBS on air as a moderator on “Washington Week in Review.” She was also a co-anchor and managing editor for “PBS NewsHour.”

"Gwen was a standard bearer for courage, fairness and integrity in an industry going through seismic change," said Sara Just, PBS "NewsHour" executive producer. "She was a mentor to so many across the industry and her professionalism was respected across the political spectrum. She was a journalist's journalist and set an example for all around her."

In 2004, Ifill reached new audiences when she moderated the vice presidential debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards. Her performance during that debate landed her the job of moderating the 2008 vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.

She took two months off from PBS last spring for unspecified health issues. She was supposed to take part in the network’s election coverage last week, but she was absent. The network said then she would be taking time off for health issues and would not provide further details.

On its website on Monday, PBS stated Ifills died "following several months of cancer treatment."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.