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Beloved Boston broadcaster Mary Richardson dies at age 76

As news of her death circulated Friday afternoon, tributes poured in on social media for the legendary WCVB Channel 5 journalist and former longtime anchor of “Chronicle.”

Mary Richardson

Beloved Boston broadcaster Mary Richardson died Thursday night after living with Alzheimer’s disease for 7 years. She was 76 years old.

As news of her death circulated Friday afternoon, tributes poured in on social media for the legendary WCVB Channel 5 journalist and former longtime anchor of “Chronicle.”

Shayna Seymour, the current co-anchor of the New England magazine show, tweeted, “Mary was an incredible force, groundbreaker, and role model to all who followed behind. Mary, thank you for leading the way and building @chronicle5. @WCVB.”

“So sad to learn that long-time colleague and friend Mary Richardson has passed away at the age of 76,” Mike Lynch posted.

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WCVB reporter Ted Reinstein wrote on Twitter, “Sad at the passing of friend and former @Chronicle5 colleague, #maryrichardson. A passionate, and dedicated journalist, she was also a warm and wonderfully mothering influence even beyond her own beloved family. She meant so much to so many, and will be so missed. @WCVB

Fans and others who worked alongside Richardson also paid tribute.

“RIP Mary Richardson, a valued colleague, a beloved Boston broadcaster on @WCVB, and a great friend to the Society of Jesus in New England. For many years, Mary was the host of our annual fundraising dinners. May she rest in peace,” Father James Martin tweeted.

Richardson’s husband, Stan Leven, said she never let her illness “define her or slow her down.”

“She was as real as real could be, a force in motion and always gracious, stopping to talk to her fans. Our family came to accept that we share Mary, you can’t contain Mary,” Leven said in a statement released by WCVB.

Richardson is also survived by her three children, Chris, Jessie, and Matt, as well as two grandchildren. 

Richardson joined WCVB in 1980 as a news reporter and anchor, as well as a host of the weekly public affairs program “Five on Five.” In 1984, she joined Peter Mehegan as co-anchor of the station’s acclaimed “Chronicle.” From 2005 until 2010, Richardson co-anchored “Chronicle” with Anthony Everett.

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Paul LaCamera, former WCVB Channel 5 president and general manager, and friend of Richardson, said, “As Chronicle celebrates its 40th anniversary, Mary is remembered as part of the program for most of those 40 years. She brought a joy, a pride, and a celebration of where we live here in New England. Mary had it all, a fine reporter, writer, producer, smart, attractive, affable and possessed that classic indomitable Irish spirit and wit. A dear colleague and friend to all of us.”

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Mary who was one of Channel 5’s most cherished and highly-regarded journalists whose standard of excellence influences Chronicle to this day,” said Kyle Grimes, WCVB Channel 5 President and General Manager. “We send our deepest sympathy to Mary’s family, and we will always be grateful to her for the countless contributions she made to the station, the industry, and the community.” 

Richardson’s work on “Chronicle” took her to locations where she told stories from around the corner and around the world.  For a decade, Richardson co-hosted the annual “Holiday at Pops!” from Boston’s Symphony Hall as well as the “Pops Goes the Fourth!” celebration from the Hatch Shell on the banks of the Charles River.

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The former WNAC-TV brought Richardson to New England in 1978 when she became the first woman in Boston to co-anchor an 11 p.m. newscast. She quickly established herself as one of Boston’s most popular local television journalists. Richardson began her broadcasting career in 1973 at KCRA-TV in Sacramento, California. By 1975, she was that station’s co-anchor for the 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts.

In 2011, Richardson was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame for her decades of accomplishment in the media industry. In 2010, Richardson received the first-ever Tim Russert Award from Boston Healthcare for the Homeless. Other honors bestowed on Richardson include a 2010 Pinnacle Award from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce for Lifetime Achievement; the 2009 National Academy of Arts and Sciences Silver Circle Award recognizing Richardson’s significant contributions to her community, the television industry, and to individuals training for careers in the field of television; a 2009 honorary doctorate from Regis College; and the Exceptional Woman Award in 2008.

With Richardson as co-anchor, “Chronicle” received two prestigious Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, several national Gabriel Awards, and numerous regional Emmy Awards. As co-host of “Pops Goes the Fourth!,” she shared a national Primetime Emmy Award nomination.

Over the years, Richardson generously donated her time to countless Massachusetts charities, such as Horizons for Homeless Children in Boston, where she volunteered reading to homeless children. Richardson also contributed her talents to Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, the Catholic Schools Foundation Inner-City Scholarship Fund, as well as the New England Province of Jesuits.

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Born and raised in California, Richardson received her undergraduate degree from Santa Clara University and graduate degrees at the University of California, Davis, and at California State University.

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