Birmingham TV news legend Wendell Harris passed away this morning.
Wendell is circled in the image below… part of an ad run by WAPI-TV (Channel 13) in the 60s when the station converted local programming to color. (Image courtesy of Birmingham Rewound)
The lady next to Wendell is Rosemary Lucas, who anchored the weather on Channel 13 for many years, before a young man named James Spann came along in the late 1970s.
Wendell hired me to be the primary weather anchor for Channel 13 in September 1979 at the ripe old age of 23. I was too young, not that good, and not ready for prime time, but he gave me the chance of a lifetime. I will forever be indebted to Wendell, and I mourn his loss this morning along with his family.
Wendell worked for WAPI radio and TV for many years… through the 60s, 70s, and into the 80s. He covered the big stories here in Birmingham for so long… and knows the history of this city and state more than most simply because he lived it. He was the news anchor for many years as well; old-timers remember watching him nightly.
Wendell and I were transferred to KDFW-TV in Dallas in 1984, and we both found our way back home. At the time of his death Wendell was still very active in the community, serving on the Board of Trustees with me at Trinity Medical Center.
His daughter, Leisha, writes this morning…
“He has been an inspiration to all of us throughout his life but particularly with this hospitalization. He has shown strength, dignity and courage. I am forever grateful to have had him as my father and for the many friends who have kept him and all of us in their thoughts and prayers.
We know today that he is at peace and has been made whole.”