Scoot: Why the death of Nancy Parker touched so many people

Scoot
August 19, 2019 - 10:59 am

The sudden and tragic death of Fox 8 news anchor and award-winning journalist, Nancy Parker late Friday sent a grief-stricken chill through the Greater New Orleans area. 

Reaction to the news was accented by sheer disbelief that something so horrible would happen to the treasured Nancy Parker.  With so many words spoken, none seemed comforting enough to satisfy those who worked with her, knew her personally or knew her through watching Nancy in their homes everyday.

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell captured what most were feeling when she said, “New Orleans did not just lose a five-time Emmy winning journalist, or a familiar, comforting face on our TV screens - we lost a mother of three, a beautiful human being, and an invaluable member of our community.”

Saints QB Drew Brees tweeted about the loss as well

Sometimes the only comforting thing to say when someone dies is that they “died doing what they loved to do,” and Nancy Parker died doing what she loved to do.  Nancy was working on a story about a local stunt pilot, Franklin J.P. Augustus, who also died in the crash of his stunt plane, a bi-wing Pitts S-2B. 

Augustus was unique in that he billed himself as the only black civilian air show acrobatic pilot.  His loss will be felt as well, maybe not by the mass audience that knew of Nancy Parker, but Augustus was a civil rights activist who was dedicated to introducing young blacks to the idea of flying.  His goal was to show them that it was possible.  Augustus was also a strong anti-drug activist.  Both lives lost in the crash of that small biplane last Friday will impact both individuals and an entire community.

After take-off, Augustus reported to the tower that he was experiencing engine trouble and was immediately cleared to land; but while the plane was making the turnaround to land, witnesses reported hearing engine trouble before the plane hit the ground and caught fire.

What is most extraordinary about the reaction to the loss of new anchor and journalist Nancy Parker is how deeply people were touched and the sense that this was a personal loss.

Grieving over the loss of a beloved personality is a testament to how closely audiences feel to the TV and radio personalities that become part of their everyday lives.  Nancy Parker had been part of the Fox 8 morning news show with other personalities in the studio and in the field, but Nancy’s innate ability to create a personal bond with the audience is not common to every TV personality. 

Nancy Parker was special, and many who watched her and invited her into their homes every morning may not have really understood just how much she was a part of their lives.  But when faced with the reality that she would forever be gone from their daily lives - they realized how much she was a part of their lives.

The TV and radio personalitie, we watch and listen to become a special part of our lives.  For everyone who watched the Fox 8 morning show, Nancy Parker’s voice and image became a comforting and predictable part of their daily routine.  On the days Nancy was not on, something was missing.

Beyond just being there every day, Nancy Parker was a special person.  She was not just “on TV.”  Nancy was a mother and a person filled with compassion for people, and those qualities were part of her on-air persona.  Many people are just “on TV,” but Nancy Parker had that unique ability to touch individual audience members and make them feel like she was talking to just them.  Her personality was warm, and her journalistic instincts never shrouded her sincere compassion for humanity.

The first time I met Nancy Parker she was so excited to tell me that she was a regular listener to my radio talk show.  At that moment I felt that if she is listening to my show - I must be doing something right.

We didn’t have to work with her or know her personally to feel that something significant is now missing from our lives.

R.I. P. Nancy Parker, and may God bless your family and friends.

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