Lisa Laco, the former host of CBC Thunder Bay's Superior Morning, died Friday morning at age 64, surrounded by family.
Laco is survived by her husband of 27 years, Brad Laco, their son John Laco and her son, Andrew Ryan.
Laco retired from CBC on Dec. 31. She had been host of Superior Morning, a current affairs show previously known as The Great Northwest, since 1997.
In 2020, she was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive nervous system disease.
She originally moved to Thunder Bay in 1992, after working at CBC stations in St. John's and Corner Brook, Nfld., her home province.
Laco was known throughout Thunder Bay and northwestern Ontario for her infectious laugh, her calmness under pressure, empathy, and ability to analyze a situation on air as it unfolded.
The voice behind thousands of interviews
She conducted around 3,000 interviews during her time in the host's chair, speaking to everybody from prime ministers, to renowned author Margaret Atwood, to everyday people.
One defining moment was when she hosted a show during the attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, breaking into national programming to guide listeners to what was happening thousands of kilometres away.
She radiated a warmth both on and off the air, and her listeners felt it too. When she retired, cards poured in from across the region, each one of which she read and was thankful to have received.
Laco frequently said on air, as well as to staff off air, how much she loved her job and how she was truly lucky to do what she did every day.
Laco was a proud Newfoundlander, but also loved Thunder Bay. She laughed and cried while sharing stories about the city and region.
She was a strong supporter of Indigenous people, and believed firmly in reconciliation and ensuring that the stories that needed to be told would be told.
Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School held a special place in her heart.
Laco was involved in the community, as emcee for numerous special events and participated in fundraisers. One particular cause she was a champion of was mental health. She publicly and frequently spoke out to help break its stigma.
"Through her, countless people were able to feel a bit more comfortable in their own skin, and many reached out over the years to tell her of their own struggles," a post on Laco's Facebook page said. "She listened to every single story."
A bursary has been established in Lisa's name, and in lieu of flowers, please consider donating in her memory. Donations can be made to the Lisa Laco Bursary Fund at the Northern Nishnawbe Education Council at https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/63859
A private funeral service will be held for Laco on Aug. 28 at Redwood Park Church. The event will be livestreamed for those unable to attend.