I haven’t been a big sports fan for some years now, but when I heard about Gary Papa’s passing today, I got quite choked up. Growing up in the Philly area and later becoming a journalist myself, I always looked up to the local newsmen as role models. Gary was one of them. His demeanor and friendliness was well known.
Jim Gardner another Philly news icon did a very stoic and proper announcement today on 6ABC. See the video below:
Rest in peace Gary! You will be missed!
6abc is mourning the loss of Action News Sports Director Gary Papa, who passed away Friday, June 19, 2009.
Gary died at 2:57 p.m. at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania after a long fight with prostate cancer. He was 54 years old.
Gary leaves behind his wife Kathleen, his two sons Tucker and Nathaniel, of course his Action News family, and all of you.
“We loved Gary Papa and, you know what? He loved all of us,” said Action News anchor Jim Gardner while announcing Gary’s death Friday afternoon during a special report on 6abc.
Gary was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1954. Upstate New York would be his home for most of the next 27 years.
Gary went to Cornell University as an undergraduate, and actually considered a career as an attorney. He even earned his law degree at the University of Buffalo Law School.
But that’s when the combination of sports and broadcasting got its hold on Gary. He went into television in Buffalo, and in Steubenville, Ohio.
In April 1981, Gary Papa came to Action News and the Delaware Valley. Gary’s first report was from Milwaukee, where the Sixers were playing the Bucks in the NBA playoffs.
Action News viewers will remember that Gary spent 9 years as weekend sports anchor, working alongside Rob Jennings.
He also spent 3 days a week reporting from the field, often on the Phillies, Flyers, Sixers and Eagles, and often on ordinary people doing extraordinary things.Action News wasn’t Gary’s only program here on Channel 6. He was also the host of the long running weekend show Prime Time, taking over from Jim O’Brien in 1983.
In 1990, Gary was named Action News Sports Director.
But it would be a mistake to think that a Monday through Friday anchoring job would let Gary spend his weekends at home. Where ever the sports story was, whenever it took place, Gary was there. So when the Eagles were playing on Sundays, he was working. And if they were on the road, so was he.
More about Gary Papa: