LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Former WHAS11 news anchor Melissa Forsythe has died at the age of 71. According to her sister, Forsythe died of natural causes at her Louisville home just before her 72nd birthday.
By the time Forsythe was the co-anchor of the 6 p.m. news on WHAS11, she had been a fixture in Louisville television for more than a decade.
Forsythe, a southern Indiana native, started her television news career in 1972 at WAVE after graduating from Indiana University. From the beginning, she was a trailblazer, becoming one of the first female street reporters in the city.
“She came in and got dirty and sweaty with the rest of us,” said Barry Bernson, who worked with Forsythe for several years in Louisville.
While reporting was her passion, Forsythe quickly rose through the ranks, becoming the first woman to anchor a weekday newscast. She joined WHAS11 in 1979 after a battle that went to federal court between WHAS and WAVE over her non-compete clause.
At WHAS, she started as a southern Indiana reporter and weekend anchor, eventually moving to a weekday anchor position and covering some of the biggest news stories of the time – including the artificial heart transplant of 1984, the deadly Carrollton bus crash and the tragic Standard Gravure shooting of 1989.
Forsythe’s sister said she always appreciated the Louisville audience and loved her job. She became a staple during Kentucky Derby coverage and wasn't afraid to put on her dance shoes - especially if it was with John Cougar Mellencamp at his Indiana home.
Following Forsythe's passing, the Louisville community responded on social media, sharing their memories of the journalist and anchor. Many were sad to hear of her passing and were grateful for the impact she had on the Louisville market.
Former WHAS11 anchor Rachel Platt talked of Forsythe's critical but appreciated eye for detail.
"You know how she proofed our scripts as reporters. I was intimidated but my stories always came out better after her revisions! We both had red marks on our scripts," she said in a tweet Friday.
Mayor Greg Fischer called Forsythe a great journalist and "dedicated public servant for our state."
In the words of Doug Proffitt: Her precise, concise writing made us all better journalists. In her wake, she set a high bar and it is so appreciated.