Lesley Swick Van Ness, a former news anchor for WGEM-TV in Illinois, passed away on April 10, 2023, at the age of 42. She was on vacation with her family in Naples, Florida, when she became ill and was taken to a hospital. Her cause of death has not been revealed yet.
A Successful Career in Journalism
Lesley Swick Van Ness started her career as a reporter for WGEM-TV in 2003. She quickly rose to become a weekend anchor in 2006 and a weekday evening anchor in 2008. She covered various stories, from local news to national events, with professionalism and integrity. She also mentored many young journalists who worked with her.
In 2016, she became a corporate recruiter for Quincy Media, a media company that owned WGEM-TV and other stations. She helped create opportunities for aspiring journalists across the country through fellowship programs and paid internships. In 2021, Quincy Media was acquired by Gray Television, and Lesley continued to work as a recruiter for the new company.
A Loving Wife and Mother
Lesley Swick Van Ness was married to Thomas Van Ness, a financial advisor. They had two sons, Sterling Thomas and Cameron Lyle. Lesley was described as an “exceptional mother and wife” who taught her children the importance of reading, learning, and loving. She also enjoyed traveling, cooking, gardening, and spending time with her family and friends.
Her obituary stated that she and her husband had a goal to raise the most well-rounded young men they could, “regardless of their boys’ lack of enthusiasm from time to time.”
A Sudden Illness and Death
Lesley Swick Van Ness was on vacation with her family in Naples, Florida, when she fell ill on April 6, 2023. She was rushed to a hospital, where she remained until her death on April 10. The exact cause of her death has not been disclosed by her family or the authorities.
Her funeral was held on April 17 in Quincy, Illinois. It was not open to the public, but only to her close friends and family members. She was laid to rest at Greenmount Cemetery.
Tributes from Colleagues and Fans
Lesley Swick Van Ness’s death shocked and saddened many people who knew her or watched her on TV. Her former colleagues at WGEM-TV paid tribute to her during a segment on April 12. They remembered her as a phenomenal journalist, a leader in the newsroom, and a friend who had a great sense of humor.
Jennifer Dale, the vice president of recruiting at Gray Television, issued a statement expressing her condolences to Lesley’s family. She said that Lesley was “part of the Gray family” and asked everyone to keep them in their prayers.
Many fans also took to social media to share their memories of Lesley and offer their sympathy to her loved ones. They praised her for her work ethic, her personality, and her impact on the community.
According to TODAY, one fan wrote on Facebook: “She was always so kind and professional. I always enjoyed watching her on WGEM. Prayers for her family.”
Another fan tweeted: “I’m so sorry to hear about Lesley Swick Van Ness’s passing. She was one of my favorite anchors on WGEM. She will be missed by many.”