PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. - Former South Florida broadcast journalist and WPLG veteran Kelley Mitchell died Sunday at the age of 58.
Mitchell's brand of reporting struck a chord with South Florida viewers that resonated long after she left television news.
From mango festivals to mayoral profiles, Kelley's signature style often came with a good dose of sarcasm.
Local 10 News senior political reporter Michael Putney said Mitchell had a way of telling it like is, even to the point of brutal honesty.
"There was a great playfulness about Kelley, both personally in the office and professionally," Putney said. "She could do things on the air and get away with things that were maybe skating along the edge as being a little editorial, but she did them so well that you kind of laughed and said, 'Well, that's Kelley."
It was a characteristic that connected with viewers at the two South Florida television stations she called home -- WSVN and WPLG.
"She understood (that) what people really cared about is what she cared about, and she brought that home every time," Putney said.
For Mitchell, the key to good reporting was simply telling a good story, even if it was her own.
In 2003, she shared to Local 10 News viewers her personal battle with breast cancer.
"Sometimes stories about a reporter's health crisis or problems somehow are self-serving or even self-aggrandizing, but that was not the case with Kelley because it wasn't just about her," Putney said. "It was about all women who either are or could be facing breast cancer and what it's like to go through it, and go through it with grace and courage."
Throughout it all, she never lost her sense of humor.
Mitchell touched many lives throughout her career and always felt blessed for the gift she got back.
"People always say you just don't know who your friends are until the tough times hit you, and I now know I have friends I couldn't even dream of," Mitchell said in 2003.
"I'll miss her a lot," Putney said. "She was a friend."
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