NEW ORLEANS -- For decades, Sally-Ann Roberts has put the "good" in good morning, with a positive spirit that has made even the most difficult news easier to take. This morning, the news was about her.
"It's hard to leave and it wasn't easy for me to make this decision, but I've thought about it and prayed about it and it's right. I know this is the right time for me to start the next chapter of my life," she told viewers.
Sally-Ann's 26 years as co-anchor of the Eyewitness Morning News, and her 40-year career here at Channel 4, made her an icon in local television. She is a model of grace, class and professionalism and has used her position to not only tell stories, but uplift people by doing so.
She began as a City Hall reporter in 1977, but rather than politics, it's her stories about people that will most be remembered, from Quiet Heroes, working to make our community a better place, to young people whose generation she inspired by giving them a voice.
Off air, she changed lives by co-founding the mentoring organization "Each One, Save One." She even made birthdays brighter by singing her own version of well wishes on air.
Sally-Ann's professional achievements earned her our business' top awards, but she is most proud of a personal achievement. In 2012, she saved her little sister Robin's life with a bone marrow transplant and changed many others by raising awareness of the need for bone marrow and organ donors. This morning, as Sally-Ann was sharing her news in New Orleans, her little sister was telling "GMA" viewers nationwide.
"She's been on the air for 40 years there, and these are tears of joy, but she is such an icon there. She started a mentoring program. She's done so much for the community there. I really am happy!" said Robin Roberts.
Just within a few hours of Sally-Ann making her announcement, 10,000 viewers had already shared messages of congratulations and thanks on social media.
Governor John Bel Edwards thanked Sally-Ann by writing "You've been a staple on Louisiana television for 40 years, comforting South LA during difficult times & celebrating during the good times."
Marc Barnes was one of the many writing how Sally will be missed. "That station and our city are much better for your most gracious presence. You will be missed on air, but I know you will continue to be an integral part of the fabric of New Orleans."
And just to show you that Sally-Ann is not just thought of as a news anchor, but more like family, Karen Layn posts "Noooo!!!! Don't leave me, As a baby, my daughter would calm down at the sound of Sally's voice... it was so noticeable."
And for me, if you were ever having a bad day, Sally-Ann gave comfort and showed you the light at the end of the tunnel better than a mother, best friend, spouse and favorite pet, all rolled into one.
"I thank all of you, our fantastic viewers for graciously welcoming me into your homes all of these years," Sally-Ann said as she announced her retirement. "New Orleans will remain my home. My husband Ron and I, the good Lord willing, are staying right here. Again, I thank you all and may God bless each and every one of you. Thank you for participating in my wonderful journey at WWL-TV."
But more so, we thank Sally-Ann for helping to move us along our journeys.
Sally-Ann's last day here will be Feb. 28 and there will be a lot of tributes and surprises over the next few weeks on the Eyewitness Morning News.
While she says she doesn't have definite plans for retirement yet, she's looking forward to spending time with her husband, three children and four grandchildren.