NBC 5 shared sad news Wednesday when a member of our its family died. Warner Saunders collapsed in his home. He was 83.
Saunders was Chicago, anchor Allison Rosati said.
"I was blessed to call him a friend and learned so much sitting next to Warner for 17 years," she said. "He was a gentleman, a journalist."
Saunders loved his work: telling your stories.
“I just love the beat of the newsroom," he once said. "It's an exciting thing to come to every day.”
He understood the power of listening and sharing early in his career. As a teacher and cofounder of the Better Boys Foundation. In giving back to the community, he got his break in television.
"Dr. King was assassinated, and the community that I worked in was called Lawndale," Saunders said years ago. "It went up in flames. They needed to recruit people from the community and see if they couldn't dust us off and clean us up and maybe make something out of us."
Saunders would begin hosting common ground on WBBM, his guest list amazing, many going on to become household names. He kept his connection with neighborhood kids hosting the Good Gang Expresss: who could forget the orange bus and all those adventures?
But his love of sports would not be denied. NBC 5 lured Saunders over in 1980. He saw his beloved White Sox win big, Michael Jordan come to town and the Bears become Superbowl champs.
Saunders would return to news and the anchor desk. One his most memorable moments was covering the election of President Barack Obama.
"When I think of the city," Obama once said. "I picture all the great Chicago monuments: Soldier Field, the Sears Tower, the Art Institute and of course Warner Saunders."
In his work Saunders did everything with passion and integrity. Even when he was diagnosed with cancer, he shared his journey and his message to never give up. He beat it, inspiring many. He turned it into a calling helping Gilda’s Club, the American Cancer Society and JDRF.
Saunders' life's work speaks for itself: countless Emmys and awards. But his retirement from television in 2009 brought tears.
"I'm just in awe that you have allowed me to come into your home for all of these years," he said during his last sign-off.
That night his wife, Saddako, joined NBC 5 in a toast to his amazing career.
Now the station is mourning the loss of a dear friend and a Chicago treasure.