“Fried Chicken sandwich, medium french fries and a large unsweetened ice tea, please. Don’t forget the extra ice in the ice tea,” I would order at the window.
But, none of the guilty pleasures were for me. Instead, I’d hand the bag to my reporter who would sift through the company car glove compartment for extra salt. She’d insist on sharing as I grudgingly stomached another stale, brown-bagged sandwich.
That reporter was Judy Sanders and despite the grease and sodium intake she always maintained a thin waistline and flawless complexion. For dessert, she would split her milk chocolate Hershey’s candy bar.
Judy worked, played and enjoyed life at a frantic pace. She and I were teamed up together often at Channel 6. We returned to the Albany bureau only after exhausting every angle to any story we covered.
The times when I did see Judy relax were at the hands of a fluffy kitten or playful dog. It didn’t matter where we were or what story we were on. The guilty loathed seeing us bang on their door but their pets would wiggle and wag in delight at the attention. She’d toss her microphone to the ground and lovingly caress a creature for several minutes until I reminded her of our looming deadline.
In 1997, I was on the other side of the camera. I allowed Judy to interview me about the death of a family member. The pain, shock and heartbreak was overwhelming. Judy was sensitive and understanding yet effective and professional. She earned my trust and respect that day.
She’d start the evening with a 15-minute photo montage of her latest sailing adventure or safari trip, interrupted only by the refilling of a wine glass or insistence that you try a frosted lemon cupcake from the local bakery.
Her house was a beautiful brick brownstone in downtown Albany decorated with colorful, eclectic art. One year, for my birthday, she gave me a poster print of Silver Screen Actress Rita Hayworth that she bought at the Sundance Film Festival. It’s still framed and showcased next to a wall of television awards garnered during my tenure at WRGB, one in particular that we won for finding an abducted baby.
Based on the dozens of responses from Paul Grondahl’s article today she will be greatly missed by many friends, family and coworkers.