Legendary Television Journalist & PBS News Anchor Gwen Ifill Dies At 61

(Photo by Don Emmert-Pool/Getty Images)

(Photo by Don Emmert-Pool/Getty Images)

Say it isn’t so! Gwen Ifill, a beloved and award-winning television journalist for NBC and PBS, former reporter for The New York Times and author who moderated vice-presidential debates in 2004 and 2008, died on Monday in Washington. She was 61.

Her death, at a hospice facility, was announced by Sara Just, executive producer of “PBS NewsHour.”

Ifill broke gender and racial barriers and became a role model for journalists all around the world. She had been battling endometrial cancer while covering this year’s presidential election.

Endometrial cancer starts when cells in the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium) begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can spread to other areas of the body.

A small number of endometrial cancers are type 2 endometrial cancer . Type 2 cancers are more likely to grow and spread outside the uterus, they have a poorer outlook (than type 1 cancers). Doctors tend to treat these cancers more aggressively.

PBS said in a statement that she died “surrounded by family and friends.”

“Gwen was one of America’s leading lights in journalism and a fundamental reason public media is considered a trusted window on the world by audiences across the nation,” Paula Kerger, the PBS president and CEO, said.

“She often said that her job was to bring light rather than heat to issues of importance to our society,” Kerger said.

Ms. Ifill was the moderator and managing editor of Washington Week and the co-anchor and co-managing editor, with Judy Woodruff, of PBS NewsHour, the culmination of a career that began in 1981 at The Baltimore Evening Sun. Both she and Ms. Woodruff moderated a Democratic debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in February. She also moderated the debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.

Her moderation skills were even parodied by Queen Latifah on Saturday Night Live.

ifill-debate

Ms. Ifill later reported for The Washington Post and The Times, covering Congress, presidential campaigns and national political conventions.