25 years of reporting in ENC: My story

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -All this year I have been marking 25 years of reporting and anchoring at WITN. I revisited the first story I ever did, took a look at the biggest mystery I’ve covered, and caught up with some familiar faces over the years. As I close out this look back and head into year 26, I wanted to do so on a more personal note.

My family moved to eastern Carolina in March of 1997 as I embarked on my career at WITN. The station at the time was in Chocowinity in Beaufort County.

My son David was two at the time. My daughter Grace was just 6 months.

Of course, being that young it would be a while before they realized their dad was on TV.

Grace told me, “I remember going to the Chocowinity station and seeing you on set and just hanging out with you in the newsroom but not knowing exactly that you were going to be on TV that night but then going to school the next day and have my friends say I saw your dad on TV.”

David recalls, “My earliest memory of it is you getting ready for work at our old house on East Main Street I think and I knew you wore the suit and everything like that for TV.”

It wasn’t long before they were on TV as well in those familiar Christmas promos we did year after year.

Grace said, “I think my favorite one would have to be when we did cookies and we made the house disastrous and mom came home and she was not happy with us.”

David thinks back to them and says, “I think I was a little bit of a goober. Yeah, I was kinda just a silly, silly kid I guess.”

But they’re young adults now. David handles the clinical trials for bone marrow transplants at a cancer center in Tampa, Florida. He says he likes it, “Because it evolves the standard of care for ways to enhance bone marrow transplant or prevent complications after it. So the scientific, the legal, and the supporting aspects that go into new drugs or new drug applications.”

Grace is a speech therapist in Raleigh working with the adult and geriatric population. She says, “If it’s someone who has dementia or someone who had a stroke it’s a very rewarding process to see them get to a point where they can communicate or swallow better or improve their cognition.”

While it certainly was not easy and not without challenges, they have grown into adults that not only amaze me and bring me joy, but I know their mother would be proud too.

My late wife Stephanie eventually started working at WITN as well, becoming the news director. She was in that position for 16 years until we unexpectedly lost her on August 22, 2017.

I, and my kids, are forever thankful for the outpouring of support at the time, and for all of the love and help provided to us over the years.

As I navigated a new life I didn’t think I would ever date again and be in a relationship. But as I have found out time and time again in life, our plans and God’s plans are often different.

That spark was lit, appropriately enough, at the Lights of Love tree lighting ceremony at what was then Vidant Beaufort Hospital in Washington a few years ago when I interviewed outreach coordinator Jennifer Mayo Lewis.

This year, as the tree lighting returned to what is now ECU Health Beaufort Hospital following an absence from Covid, we also returned and reflected on what started out as a friendship. Jennifer said, “It’s exciting. It’s exciting to be here. Truly a blessing.” Neither one of us knew that God had more in store. Jennifer told me, “The older I get the more I realize that and he definitely had a great plan for us.”

As I close out my 25-year anniversary reports with a look at the changes my family has seen over those years, I would be remiss if I didn’t also include all of you at home, our faithful viewers, as part of my extended family, that I count among my many blessings, and thank you for sticking with me and WITN all these years.

To watch and read my November report on the search for answers and justice in a 1997 double murder you can click here.

To watch and read my October report on the fun, laughs, and bloopers you can click here.

To watch and read my September report on my biggest interview you can click here.

To watch and read my August anniversary report on the worst hurricane I covered you can click here.

To watch and read my July anniversary report on my favorite places in ENC you can click here.

To watch and read my June anniversary report on the impact of CMN on lives and a hospital you can click here.

To watch and read my May anniversary report on the biggest mystery I have covered you can click here.

To watch and read my April anniversary report on working through and covering a pandemic you can click here.

To watch and read my March anniversary report on familiar faces and changes through the years you can click here.

To watch and read my February report on my most impactful story you can click here.

To watch and read my January report on my first story I ever covered you can click here.

Facebook