CHICAGO — A celebration of life and memorial service was held Tuesday in honor of WGN-TV icon Merri Dee.

Dee passed away on March 16 at the age of 85. She was a local television star with 43 years in Chicago broadcasting, nearly all of them spent at WGN. She was on-air from 1972-1983 and later served as Director of Community Relations until 2008.

Many will remember the story of her kidnapping at gunpoint in 1971 when she was shot and almost killed. Dee survived and became an inspiration to others.

“Merri Dee’s enduring legacy is her role as an inspiration to young women who strived to follow in her footsteps,” said broadcast executive Marty Wilke.

Dee was a mentor to many, driven to help others with a powerful message.

“Love never gives up.  Love cares more for others than for self,” said close friend Jann Honore.

The longtime journalist helped inspire a generation of Chicagoans to achieve.

“I couldn’t really sing but she saw something in me and I thought I made the Grammy awards because of Merri Dee,” said Lighthouse Church of All Nations Pastor Dan Willis.

WGN’s own Micah Materre officiated the celebration of life services held at Christ Universal Temple.

“She set the bar so high,” Materre said. “So high that she wanted so much for each and every one of us.”

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