ROCKY HILL — Denise D’Ascenzo, a longtime local news anchor, has died unexpectedly, her employer WFSB announced Saturday night.
D’Ascenzo’s family believes she died of a massive heart attack, WFSB reported Sunday. D’Ascenzo was 61.
“The grief we are all feeling is immeasurable,” the statement said. “We are devastated for her husband and daughter who were her whole life. There are no words that could begin to summarize this loss for our WFSB family.”
D’Ascenzo joined WFSB in 1986. She became a staple of Connecticut regional television news, covering many major local and national news stories.
D’Ascenzo was presented with the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle in 2013 for significant contributions to broadcasting, according to the statement. In 2015, she became the first woman to be inducted into the Connecticut Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame.
D’Ascenzo also earned two prestigious Edward R. Murrow awards, seven Associated Press awards, and a national Gabriel Award.
She has also been recognized for her charity work, including the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Mary's Place and the Channel 3 Kids Camp.
D’Ascenzo’s WFSB co-anchor Dennis House said during his on-air broadcast Saturday night, during which he announced her death with tears in his eyes, that she was “my sister, my TV wife, my best friend here and my co-anchor for 25 years.”
Gov. Ned Lamont was one of several people to post acknowledgement of D’Ascenzo’s death on social media Saturday night, tweeting that D’Ascenzo’s death was “incredibly saddening” and that she was “undoubtedly a Connecticut news legend.”
“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.”
Mike Savino, a former Record-Journal editor, became reporter at WFSB earlier this year. He posted on Twitter that D’Ascenzo was “easily one of the nicest people I'll ever meet.”
“Denise had an amazing career,” Savino said late Saturday. “But more than that, she was a great person who truly cared about every single person who worked at WFSB. It will be impossible to replace her.”
She was also the longest-serving anchor at WFSB.