LOS ANGELES - Longtime FOX 11 reporter Tony Valdez passed away at the age of 78.
His son told FOX 11 Friday morning that his father had been battling end-stage kidney failure and passed away at his home.
Valdez was a proud Angeleno, growing up in downtown LA. He said at the time, he didn't see any Latinos or people who looked like him on TV and credits himself for breaking the color barrier for Latinos.
He worked for KTTV for 35 years. He began in 1981 and retired in 2016. He was the longtime host of Midday Sunday and co-anchored weekends with Christine Devine in the 1990s. He was also the host of the crime series LA’s Most Wanted, in the era of the show America’s Most Wanted.
Prior to joining KTTV, he worked at KCET, KTLA and La Opiñion.
He's covered everything from the Watts Riots, to the Hillside Strangler, Night Stalker, O.J. Simpson and several political elections.
"Whether it's murder, mayhem, death or disaster, those are the things that I feel a sense of responsibility to report," Valdez said when he announced his retirement.
Valdez was the union shop steward at FOX 11 and chaired the 8 Ball foundation, helping local journalists in need and granting scholarships. He was also an avid photographer and documented Los Angeles in black and white. His second love was music and played the saxophone.
"Anyone who worked with Tony can tell you of his complete dedication to the truth in journalism. He knew this city inside and out," said FOX 11 anchor Christine Devine.
She said Tony would work every Thanksgiving insisting he wanted to spend it with his FOX 11 family. For Christmas, he would treat the newsroom to tamales first made by his aunt, and then when she retired from his favorite shop in East LA, LA Indiana, he would deliver the tamales with his sweet grandson.
FOX 11 has carried on the tamale tradition ever since!
"Tony Valdez was a trailblazing reporter, advocate, and mentor. He was one of the first Latino journalists to break the color barrier in Los Angeles. And with pride, Tony said he spent 35 years, 5 months, and 4 days covering the stories of this city on KTTV. We are better journalists, and a better community, because of the coverage and compassion of Tony Valdez," FOX 11 Acting News Director Pete Wilgoren said.
He spent many years as a docent at the LA Conservancy, and would lead tours of downtown Los Angeles.
He was a Veteran of the US Army and served during the Vietnam War.
Valdez was loved by many in the newsroom and throughout the city. He made an impact in the industry that many will remember.
He's received numerous Emmy, Golden Mike and Los Angeles Press Club awards. He attended Los Angeles City College.
Tony is survived by his son, Steve Valdez, and three beloved grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the LA Conservancy or 8 Ball foundation.