There are a lot of people who struggle behind closed doors. Those who seem well adjusted and happy on the outside may have internal struggles brewing that we may have no idea about.
Neena Pacholke was a beloved morning news anchor for WAOW. She was known for her infectious smile and happy-go-lucky demeanor. Thus the news of her death left her family, friends, and colleagues shocked.
“Neena Pacholke, our beloved morning anchor passed away suddenly Saturday. The entire team here at News 9 are absolutely devastated by the loss as we know so many others are as well,” 9 WAOW’s statement said.
The former college basketball player died by apparent suicide at the age of 27 years old. Pacholke grew up in Tampa and played basketball for the University of South Florida in her college years. She leaves behind her fiance, as she was engaged at the time of her death, according to her older sister Kaitlynn Pacholke.
“She was just like a little ball of sunshine, and her smile was massive. My sister was by far the happiest person I thought I knew,” her sister said.
One of the last things Pacholke posted was a retweet of a tweet by author Jon Gordon, reminding people that the best is yet to come and to be more positive.
We are not positive because life is easy. We are positive because life can be hard.
Give yourself (and others) grace.
Speak life and encourage others.
Look for the good today.
Remember your WHY.
Believe the best is yet to come.
— Jon Gordon (@JonGordon11) August 18, 2022
“She was a kind person with a big heart and a contagious smile and we will miss her greatly,” the station said in their statement.
Pacholke’s co-anchor Brendan Mackey is devastated as expected, he said his former co-anchor was “the brightest light in the room” with the “biggest smile and the funniest laugh.
“I have never met anyone in my entire life that is more loved than this girl. Everyday she made people smile, whether that was through a tv screen or just being an incredible friend. She was so happy and so full of life and a role model,” Mackey’s Facebook post about her read.
Packholke joined the news station in 2017 as a multimedia journalist and got promoted to an anchor in February 2019. She graduated from the University of South Florida where she was a lettered point guard for three seasons.
Jose Fernandez, head coach of the USF women’s basketball team also made a statement on Twitter on behalf of his organization. It read, “Our prayers are with the Pacholke family during this extremely difficult time. Please keep them in your thoughts.”
Her sister Kaitlynn Pacholke is still in disbelief. She said you never know what someone is going through internally.
Kaitlynn Pacholke said you can never really know what another person is going through.
“Sometimes you just don’t know what people are going through, no matter how much you think you know someone. … My sister had access to every resource you could imagine. She was loved by everybody. She was so good at her job,” Kaitlynn said in her interview.
Her sister’s good attitude was infectious according to Kaitlynn. She had a knack for making people feel special, she said.
“She just radiated love and positivity, and she just cared so much about pouring into other people, and always put other people first. I think she did that at the expense of not caring about herself,” her sister added.
The news of such a young death is always upsetting. Our hearts go out to Neena Pacholke’s family and friends.