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'Colorful and classy.' | Derby fashions of the late Melissa Forsythe

Many of the hats Melissa wore during her six years co-anchoring WHAS11's Derby coverage were specially made for her by famed New York designer Frank Olive.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Bright, colorful, bold and tailor-made for the Kentucky Derby, the late Melissa Forsythe's collection of Derby hats are perfectly preserved, still in their boxes.

Forsythe, a former WHAS11 anchor, died in early February at the age of 71.

She left behind 31 hats, many others donated before her passing. 

"They reminded me of her," Forsythe's sister, Cynthia Gibbs, said. "Because they are classy and pretty."

Gibbs is handling Forsythe's estate and said she's looking to donate some of her sister's hats to Kentuckiana organizations that empower women.

Credit: Doug Proffitt, WHAS11 News

Four of Forsythe's hats have already been donated to the Frazier History Museum where they will be displayed in an upcoming exhibit.

"I wanted someone to get them who would something nice with them," Gibbs said. "Whether using them for personal use or people who need jobs and need a nice hat to wear, anything like that."

During her 12 year career at WHAS-TV, Melissa was the co-anchor on the station's Derby coverage for 6 years from 1985 to 1991.

Many of the hats were specially made for Forsythe by the famed New York hat designer Frank Olive, who died in 1995.

Credit: Doug Proffitt, WHAS11 News

Her fashionable hats would always get rave reviews from viewers. They chronicle a golden era of television and Derby coverage. The collection stands out today as timeless.

The search for the perfect Derby hat was similar in the way Forsythe approached her journalism career, with dedication and excellence.

"She was very much into what she did, she wanted to do a good job of it," Gibbs said. "She appreciated her fans she got letters from and stuff, and I think that would mean a lot to her that she's that well remembered."

If you know of an organization or person in Kentuckiana that would like to have some of Forsythe's hats donated to them, email WHAS11 anchor Doug Proffitt.

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