On August 16, the City of New Orleans lost a beloved and integral part of her community. Television newswoman Nancy Parker died when the stunt plane she was reporting from crashed near Lakefront Airport. Nancy was a storyteller, a wife, a mother and a passionate advocate for the “Big Easy.” Nancy put her heart and soul into everything she did. With laughter and love, honesty and compassion—she conveyed the story like few others could.
Nancy’s love of journalism began at an early age in her hometown of Opelika, Alabama. While still in high school, she had a job anchoring the evening drive news at a local radio station, WJHO. The ambitious 17-year-old spent many long days balancing homework with evening radio shifts, working towards transforming the small glass booth into a larger window of opportunity. She went on to anchor at several stations before making New Orleans’ FOX 8 her long-time home in 1996. The respected reporter’s career spanned 30 years culminating in a 22-year tenure at FOX 8 where she earned five Emmy Awards.
Her career highlights were impressive to say the least. From covering Pope Paul II’s visit to Saint Louis to a one-on-one interview with George W. Bush on the Katrina Recovery, Nancy always brought kindness, integrity and enthusiasm to every story she crafted.
But the accolades were not the focus of her career, merely the icing on her King Cake. It is clear that her passion revolved around home and family. From her article A Love Letter to the City of New Orleans, written in the city’s tricentennial year, she recalls being captivated by the Big Easy, “I saw people in New Orleans dance for no reason and call me ‘beeeeeby.’ I liked that. Something about this place stole my little girl heart and refused to let it go. The spirits cast a spell on me…”
And on returning to the city and her heart’s desires, she continues, “A busy career in broadcasting brought me back here. A young man I met on a news story in Alabama in 1989, years before my job in the city, just happened to be a New Orleans area native. He had the same swagger that the city did. I married him a few years later. He stole my heart just like New Orleans did… the spell never wore off. ”
And Nancy cast her own spell on her beloved city and its viewers. As a familiar face for decades, Nancy was a master at capturing the essence of the story. She made the city better and stronger with her kindness and her remarkable joie de vivre. She embraced the city that was her sparkling diamond in the rough. She loved what she did—and the people of New Orleans and countless others loved her right back.