Denise D'Ascenzo, the award-winning WFSB-TV news anchor died suddenly in her Connecticut home late on Saturday, the television station announced. She was 61.
“It was sudden and unexpected,” the station’s statement said. “The grief we are all feeling is immeasurable. We are devastated for her husband and daughter, who were her whole life.”
She came to WFSB-TV in 1986 and “through the years has been a steady and reassuring presence on the anchor desk, covering all the major local and national news stories of the day,” the statement added.
Tributes came from throughout the state on Saturday, as word of her death spread through the local community. Many were shocked.
“I am stunned, I am dumbfounded, and I have no adequate words right now to say how much I thought of Denise," colleague Gerry Brooks said on Facebook. "I will say this: she is everything you thought she was. And she took good care of herself. Which reminds me how random the lottery of life is. As my mother used to say, 'It goes by so fast.' Rest easy, Denise. You will be badly and sadly missed.”
Dennis House was her co-anchor at WFSB for 25 years. He appeared teary-eyed while announcing the news of her death.
"She was a sister I never had," he said. "I was her brother that she never had. She was my TV wife and we were best friends and I will miss her dearly."
Gov. Ned Lamont also tweeted a tribute of D'Ascenzo -- who was the longest-serving news anchor at a single television station in the state -- calling her "a Connecticut news legend."
"The news of @DeniseDAscenzo's passing is incredibly saddening," he wrote. "She was a trusted name in journalism, and her work most certainly made an impact. My deepest condolences go to her family, friends, and colleagues at @WFSB. She is undoubtedly a CT news legend."
Sen. Richard Blumenthal wrote that she "epitomized competence, class and integrity."
"For more than 30 years, she guided Connecticut through tragedy and triumph," he said. "We will miss her huge heart, her boundless generosity and her tireless grace. Connecticut has lost a television legend, invaluable voice, and a dear friend."
Throughout her dedicated journalism career, D'Ascenzo won 11 Emmys, including one for Best Anchor, two Edward R. Murrow awards, seven Associated Press awards, and a national Gabriel Award. She was the first woman to be inducted in the Connecticut Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame, according to WFSB.