|Kelley Mitchell and one of her beloved Corgis.|
Photo by Carl Juste / Miami Herald
The first time I ever saw Kelley Mitchell in person was in 1992.
Myself - and a whole lot of other newspeople - were staking out Jose Canseco's house in Cocoplum. He'd gotten into some kind of trouble the night before and we wanted to speak with him and take his picture. He was having none of that. So we just waited and looked at each other.
I don't remember if I ever talked with Kelley that day, but I do remember she was wearing a clingy dress that can best be described as fire engine red.
Fast forward eight years to the year 2000 and Kelley is part of a group of journalists staking out the Miami home of Elian Gonzalez.
It was sometime after the 6 p.m. live shots and many of the TV types were making dinner plans.
Kelley caught my attention because she had volunteered to take a lot of complicated food orders for a bunch of us hungry photographers without so much as a complaint. It was a nice gesture that I somehow remember to this day.
Today we're learning that Kelley passed away yesterday at the age of 58.
On Facebook, friend and former colleague, WSVN anchor Craig Stevens wrote this:
Her passion to tell a story and tell it well drove all of us harder. We wanted to please her. When we did, her praise was thoughtful and genuine. If we fell short, she made sure we knew how to do a better job the next time. As a friend, she'd move mountains if that's what you needed. I wouldn't be where i am today without her mentorship. I've thanked her for that over the years, many times. Today, I'm glad i did.
And former WPLG colleague Michael Putney said this of Kelley:
There was a great playfulness about Kelley, both personally in the office and professionally. She could do things on the air and get away with things that were maybe skating along the edge as being a little editorial, but she did them so well that you kind of laughed and said, Well, that's Kelley.
I spoke with Kelley a month or two ago after she was abruptly let go at WLRN.
If she was bitter about the circumstances of her departure, she never let me know it. She was way too classy a person to hold a grudge.
Kelley's Facebook page is filling up fast with tributes from viewers, friends and co-workers, past and present.
You can read them by clicking here.