A Wisconsin morning news anchor died on Saturday, August 27, at age 27 in an apparent suicide.
News of WAOW anchor Neena Pacholke, who grew up in Tampa and played basketball for the University of South Florida, was engaged to be married at the time of her death, her older sister Kaitlynn Pacholke told Tampa Bay Times.
Her sudden death left her family and colleagues stunned and many are mourning her online.
“Neena Pacholke, our beloved morning anchor passed away suddenly Saturday,” 9 WAOW said in a statement. “The entire team here at News 9 are absolutely devastated by the loss as we know so many others are as well.”
“She was just like a little ball of sunshine, and her smile was massive,” Kaitlynn Pacholke said on Monday, August 29. “My sister was by far the happiest person I thought I knew.”
One of Pacholke’s last posts on Twitter was a retweet from author Jon Gordon about positivity and believing the best is yet to come.
The tweet reads: “We are not positive because life is easy. We are positive because life can be hard. Give yourself (and others) grace. Speak life and encourage others. Look for the good today. Remember your WHY. Believe the best is yet to come.”
News 9 and Pacholke’s co-anchor also cited Pacholke’s smile and bubbly personality in tributes.
“She was a kind person with a big heart and a contagious smile and we will miss her greatly,” the station said.
Her co-anchor Brendan Mackey said Pacholke was “the brightest light in the room” with the “biggest smile and the funniest laugh.”