KDKA personality Zanos dies of cancer at 60
Yvonne Zanos, the award-winning consumer editor at KDKA-Channel 2, died this morning following a battle with ovarian cancer. She was 60.
"She carried on through that most difficult journey with the most incredible grace of any human being I've ever known," said her KDKA co-worker, longtime friend and cancer survivor Mary Robb Jackson.
"I can't imagine anyone handling this type of situation more gracefully than she did," agreed Christopher Pike, vice president and general manager at KDKA. "She's been an inspiration to all of us."
Jackson said Zanos often underwent exhausting chemotherapy treatments before going to work.
Zanos' last day of work was Dec. 14; her last report aired Dec. 28, Assistant News Director Anne Linaberger said.
"I think some people will be surprised about her passing because she really was able to turn on the old Yvonne charm and energy when the camera went on and was able to hide her pain and sickness from the viewers," said Linaberger.
Earlier in her career, she was a consumer reporter at WTAE-Channel 4.
WTAE-TV news anchor Mike Clark said Zanos "was a fighter when it came to consumer rights."
Another former WTAE co-worker, Susan Brozek Scott, said Zanos' career was filled with "some amazing reporting, great journalism."
"Her pieces were good, they were solid. They were always thoroughly and diligently researched. She nailed the facts, she got all sides of the story and then she laid it out cleanly and clearly with tremendous on-air presence," Scott said. "Yvonne had that radiant smile and was so photogenic, I don't know if people realized the depth and versatility of what she could do."
Pittsburgh actress Lori Cardille Rogal said Zanos — who grew up in Bethel Park and was a 1972 graduate of Bethany College — befriended her when they were both young models.
"She had such a positive outlook on life. She took me under her wing and encouraged me. She was so open, kind and giving," Rogal said.
Zanos began her career at KDKA on "Evening Magazine" before moving to WTAE. She worked there from 1986-97, then returned to KDKA.
"She was so vibrant, such a delight in the newsroom," said KDKA's Ralph Iannotti. "I never heard her say a mean word about anyone. She's going to be missed."
Pike and Jackson said Zanos was devoted to helping those in need.
"She has been the face of the KD Turkey Fund for many years," Pike said. "It was something she was passionate about and, recognizing that this was potentially her last year, she was really committed to making this a record year."
Pike said the fund raised more than $537,000 for Thanksgiving, the most in its 27-year history.
Zanos is survived by her husband, James; daughters, Adona Kane and Nicole Conaway, both of Mt. Lebanon; mother, Edith Shadler of Canonsburg; and two sisters, Nancy Mele of Eighty Four and Carol Rumberger of Cambridge, Wis.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the KD Turkey Fund in care of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, One North Linden St., Duquesne, PA 15110.