Fox News colleagues remember 'friend to all' Uma Pemmaraju following her death at 64

·3 min read
Uma Pemmaraju attends The United Nations Women for Peace Association's Annual Awards Luncheon in New York City.
Uma Pemmaraju attending the 2017 United Nations Women for Peace Association's Annual Awards Luncheon in New York City. (Getty Images)

Uma Pemmaraju, a founding anchor for Fox News, is being remembered as "an incredibly talented journalist" by colleagues and former co-workers after her death this week at the age of 64.

"I was so sad to hear. @UmaPemmaraju was a beautiful person inside & out," former Arkansas governor and Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee tweeted. "Talented and kind. A cherished friend."

Pemmaraju was at Fox News when it launched on Oct. 7, 1996, anchoring "Fox News Now" and "Fox on Trends." At the time, she was one of the few Indian American anchors on national television.

"We are deeply saddened by the death of Uma Pemmaraju, who was one of FOX News Channel’s founding anchors and was on the air the day we launched," Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott said in a statement to Fox News on Tuesday. "Uma was an incredibly talented journalist as well as a warm and lovely person, best known for her kindness to everyone she worked with. We extend our heartfelt condolences to her entire family,"

According to the Boston Globe, Pemmaraju was 6 years old when her family moved from Rajahmundry, India, to San Antonio where they were one of the few Indian families. The family relocated after her father, a researcher who specialized in birth control, was asked to direct a new program for population studies in Texas.

Pemmaraju began her journalism career with the San Antonio Express-News newspaper while attending Trinity University in San Antonio as a political science major.

After college, she anchored shows for KTVT-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth and WMAR-TV Baltimore, where she won an Emmy for her work, and WBZ-TV in Boston, before landing at Fox News in 1996. She left the network but returned in 2003 as an anchor and fill-in host.

Speaking with the Boston Globe in 1993, Pemmaraju explained what drove her.

“I’m a conduit to help other people,” she said. “I don’t want to sound too sentimental. But that’s what I’m about. I want to use my celebrity to help people, to help bring about something that needs to be done.”

David Wade of WBZ-TV, where Pemmaraju worked from 1992 to 1996, spoke with her family, who told him she was a "'noble soul and pioneer' as an Indian Asian American newswoman of prominence."

Current and former Fox News employees paid tribute to Pemmaraju on Twitter.

Former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly tweeted, "Uma was a pro and always had a kind word for others — she was taken too soon."

"She was the only South Asian face on American national TV news, I remember fondly from the 90’s," wrote Reena Ninan, who worked at the network for eight years. "What amazed me most was her kindness when I joined as a reporter. She was a friend to all. Prayers up to her daughter. She loved her with all her [heart]."

Fox News financial correspondent Cheryl Casone recalled Pemmaraju's "warm smile in the halls of @FoxNews," later adding "I will never forget you."

"My first job at FNC was as an AP for 'Fox On Trends' with Uma Pemmaraju," Fox News editor Jay Soroko shared. "Uma was a true professional, whip-smart and fast on her feet. She had an infectious way of making you strive for perfection."

"She would stop, look you in the eye and be present with you at every interaction and always with a light in her eyes," Fox News chief meteorologist Rick Reichmuth remembered. "She'd remember prior stories we talked about and I always felt like she really cared."

Pemmaraju is survived by her daughter, Kirina. No official cause of death has been released.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.