Family, friends and former colleagues honor Alec Gifford's life - FOX 8, WVUE,, weather, app, news, saints

Family, friends and former colleagues celebrate Alec Gifford's legacy

Algiers, La.—Family, friends, and former colleagues of local TV icon Alec Gifford gathered to honor his memory.

Gifford who was a former news director and news anchor at WVUE TV died Friday at the age of 85. He was known not only for his news coverage, but also for breaking down racial barriers in journalism.

Gifford spent 51 years in television, working 13 years at WVUE TV and many more years at another local news station. He also worked a short time at NBC news.

The legendary newsman's star as a local television news personality soared with his coverage of Hurricane Betsy in 1965 and decades later he covered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.

In between Betsy and Katrina and Rita Gifford also covered the desegregation of local public schools and the 1973 Howard Johnson sniper shooting.

Gifford also heavily covered politics at the state and local levels until his retirement.

Dozens greeted his family at an Algiers home today and reflected on Gifford's life and long list of contributions to the community.

"It's an honor for sure, I'm sure we could have filled up maybe the Superdome…It's been quite an outpouring. You know, dad, was just kind of a real basic reporter who had no agenda…he just did it because it needed to be done and to get the facts and get them on as accurately and as quickly as possible, " said his son Russell Gifford.

Former colleagues said there was only one Alec Gifford.

"You grow up watching somebody on television and you never think you're going to work with him, you know that was weird to actually be working with him…They used to tease us that they put our desks together because we were the two old people and that was even weirder…I always told him that you'll never retire even when you do retire, you won't retire…He was somebody who was doing exactly what he was supposed to do," said Ro Brown of his former colleague.

Former WVUE newsman Furnell Chatman was hired by Gifford. Chatman went on to work in some of the largest TV markets in the nation.

"For me it's extremely obvious. When Alec Gifford hired me the only people of color that worked in the newsroom were janitors. He had the courage to open the door for people of color in New Orleans in broadcast news. I am forever thankful for him for doing that, to me that's his legacy. He opened the door for lots of people, not just people of color, people who simply had talent, people he recognized who had great potential," said Chatman.

Gifford was the son of a newspaper reporter. And his family is so very proud of his legacy.

"Just as a reporter who wanted to get everything right," said Russell Gifford.

Gifford is survived by his wife, Delores, five children and eight grandchildren.

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