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WGN-TV is saddened following the death of our former broadcaster and community relations director Merri Dee.

Dee, 85, 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.

She overcame adversity over and over again. 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.

Recent picture of Dee with friends

She was an author, a motivational speaker, a panelist, a career coach and an advocate for violence prevention.

Dee was inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists’ Hall of Fame and was also the Illinois State President of AARP.

WGN-TV released the following statement on her death.

“Chicago’s Very Own, Merri Dee, was a one-of-a-kind legend. From WGN staff announcer to hosting parade telecasts, telethons and even the Illinois Lottery drawings, she was synonymous with WGN-TV. She was groundbreaking in the broadcasting field and an inspiration to several generations of young women. Among her greatest legacies as Director of Community Relations, she spoke at thousands of events and helped raise over $30 million dollars for WGN-TV Children’s Charities, benefitting various organizations throughout Chicagoland. Merri Dee was a pioneer who will be greatly missed.”