PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – After 30 years in television news, half of them spent at Local10, Laurie Jennings' colleagues reflected on the woman who was both a co-worker and a friend.
"When I first learned that Laurie was leaving, I was like, 'What?' But when she explained to the viewers, 'You know it's time,' that hit me right here," said former WPLG anchor Dwight Lauderdale, who retired in 2007 after 40 years at Local 10.
"When I found out Laurie was leaving, she gave me a call at home. It was around noon and I was not thrilled about it. I'm still not thrilled about it, but I understand," said certified chief meteorologist Betty Davis, referring to Jennings' desire to spend more time with her husband, children and aging parents.
"I'm very grateful to have worked with her all these years," said chief photographer William Damas. "She's very pleasant to work with, very professional and we really clicked right away. We were both on the same page with the stories we did and it just worked. We looked at each other and we'd know exactly what to do."
Local 10 anchor and medical specialist Kristi Krueger said Jennings was always focused on the moment.
"During Hurricane Wilma, Dwight got the stomach flu and couldn't come in to work, so I was called in to take his place," Krueger said. "Laurie and I anchored 15, 16 hours together and she was pregnant with the twins. She somehow managed to power through. It was amazing, her stamina."
Jennings also touched co-workers with her compassion and concern.
"Laurie has a big heart and you see it on the air," senior political reporter Michael Putney said. "She cares about South Florida and people in the charitable community see that all the time."
"She's just bubbly and so full of life and so fully of joy," added anchor and reporter Louis Aguirre. "She's just infectious to be around."
"Outside of work, it's the friend listening to stories, sharing those details of raising kids, watching our kids grow up together," sports director Will Manso said. "Those are the things I'm really going to miss so much about her."
For sports producer David Lang, the connection to Jennings became very personal when his son Benjamin was born premature.
"He was born at 32 weeks and spent 31 days in the NICU," Lang said. "Laurie has been through it and just being able to talk to her about my experience really helped me."
"Not only does she make you better as a person, but as a journalist because she cares so much," said Local 10 News anchor Calvin Hughes, who worked side-by-side with Jennings for nine years. "I'm happy with the time I've had with her and I'm sure there will be more."