TV legend and longtime KSL anchor Dick Nourse has died at 83

May 18, 2023, 11:40 AM | Updated: May 25, 2023, 6:47 am

SALT LAKE CITYThe KSL family and the television news industry has lost a legend. Longtime anchorman, Dick Nourse, passed away at the age of 83.

From his first newscast in 1964 until his last in 2007, Dick became the trusted voice of KSL 5 News for 43 years.

He was a three-time cancer survivor.

The Golden Voice

Born in 1940 in Grand Junction, Colorado, by the time he was a young man, Richard Nourse had it all: the looks, the intelligence, the voice.

He began his broadcasting career in radio at KRAX Radio, serving western Colorado and eastern Utah, AM and FM in Grand Junction.

His shift to TV started with a stop in Salt Lake City in 1964 to visit his brother. Dick said he was on his way to a job in Sacramento when KSL offered him a position and the rest is history.

After a year on the news desk by himself, KSL lured weatherman Bob Welti and sportscaster, Paul James from Channel 4, and one of the longest-running, most popular anchor teams ever was born.

Promotions of this team were constant.

The most looked-forward to new program. It’s the number one Channel 5 news with Nourse, Welti and James. In color, weeknights at 6 and 10 p.m. The number one reason why more people turn to Broadcast House and Channel 5!”

Dick also anchored with Bruce Lindsay, Shelley Thomas, Carole Mikita, Ruth Todd and Deanie Wimmer.

First Mark, then Kevin Eubank anchored weather after Welti retired and Jim Nantz, Craig Bolerjack and Tom Kirkland anchored sports with him.

Over his 43 years as a newsman at KSL, he anchored a conservative estimate of more than 20,000 newscasts.

His first big story was a plane crash on Nov. 11, 1965.

“The United Airlines 727 jet, carrying 88 persons, exploded and broke in half tonight when it crash landed at the Salt Lake Municipal Airport, Dick reported. Forty-three people died in the crash. The plane was on its way from New York City to San Francisco when it crashed in Salt Lake.

Close to Dick’s heart was his trip to cover the Vietnam War in 1967. He found Utah sailors and soldiers serving there.

From bases to battleships, he brought home the stories of Utah servicemen.

So many had the one response when we left, ‘Will you call my mother and tell her I’m alright?’”

He became emotional with the memory. “Then I proceeded to call all the mothers, ‘Hey, Tom wanted me to call you and say, ‘Hi, I talked with him…’“

Dick was the only Utah television reporter to go to Vietnam during the war and he returned in 1997.

When I left Vietnam in 1967, I had no idea I would ever return, Dick recalled. When he did, he said he was able to find out how the Vietnamese felt about Americans and our involvement there.

Other big stories he covered included the Ted Bundy murder trial, the Hi-Fi Murders in Ogden, the Mark Hofmann forgeries and murders, fundamentalist/ polygamist John Singer shot and killed by law enforcement and nine years later, the retaliatory attack by his family.

Among the highlight of his career were two moments that came with the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. He and Deanie Wimmer traveled to Greece to accompany the torch to Utah. And Dick was one of those chosen to carry the torch in the relay. He was touched and honored.

Good evening, I’m Dick Nourse

Dick was the face and voice of our KSL team to viewers.

“One thing about the news is, there’s plenty of it. It comes to you every day like a freight train and here at Channel 5, we have a full-time news crew keeping you posted as to what happened and when, he said in a memorable promotion.

In 2019, reporter Carole Mikita interviewed Dick one last time. There was a famous promotional poster with his face in a serious expression.

I think that captured, probably, what I really felt every night,” Dick said. “Ten seconds to air, I probably had that look on my face.”

Did he miss it?

I really miss what I did, and the biggest part were the people I worked with, he said. And the two he missed most were Welti, meteorologist, and James, sportscaster. Both passed away in 2019.

They became the iconic team inducted into the Broadcast Hall of Fame.

Was he nervous when they came from the competition to join him at KSL?

Then I was scared!” he laughed. “But it all worked out so well, so very well.”

There was never a question about, you know, ‘You’re kind of a greenhorn, you’re a lot younger than we are, inexperienced.’ Never, never did they mention anything about that. They were super, those two guys became like brothers to me, Carole, they really did.”

He was remembered as someone who was exacting with every word in every script, ever night; he focused on words and details.

That’s a little of my OCD coming out, but I did not want to stumble around on anything. I would always ask a reporter if I could move this around, say this instead, cut this line out, and usually, it was yes. So, that was the reason behind all of that, I just wanted to get it right,” he explained.

Three-time cancer survivor

His career nearly ended in 1980, when Dick received a devastating diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

They found the tumor on the side of my neck, high chest … and they went in and it was cancer and it had spread from my neck to my chest to my abdomen, three stages, he said.

Dick had chemotherapy treatments, lost 60 pounds and all of his hair, but he came back to work. Once again with tears in his eyes and a catch in his throat he told me“I put my wig on and went back to work and everybody at KSL, I guess that’s why I love those guys, we cried together and ‘Welcome back, Dick, it’s not the same without you, we had to have you back!’ “

In an interview with his co-anchor, Shelley Thomas during his recovery, she asked, “What are you feeling right now, after what you’ve been through so far? What’s going through your mind?

“I think you realize the importance of life, more than anything,” Dick said.  “Because it’s scary, you know, when someone says, ‘Hey, you’ve got cancer.’ And I’m 40-years-old, just turned 40. I’m still young, still a lot of things I want to do. So, I just kind of sat back and evaluated my life and said, ‘I’ve got to lick this, and I will. I mean, I can see me out there now waging a cancer battle for other people.’ ”

And wage that battle he did. For decades, Dick put heart and soul into the fight for a cure for cancer. He cheered on hundreds who called him when they learned they had cancer. He even wore those little, yellow shorts on the newscast, the night of that cancer run, because a viewer promised to donate $50 more to the American Cancer Society.

Then in 1996, Dick battled cancer again, this time prostate cancer.

Doctors caught it early, it had not spread into his lymph nodes or surrounding tissue. The key was early detection, he told medical reporter, Ed Yeates at the time, with both a physical exam and a blood antigen test.

I think men, from time to time, don’t want to talk about, especially prostate concerns because they feel ‘I’m half a man once you have to go through some of this,” he said in that interview. “And, believe me, you’re not. The doctor expects me to be fully in control of my life as it was before.”

Then, 17 years later, at age 72, the fight began again. After experiencing a nagging sore throat four months before, Dick was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, caused by a virus.

“They found a tumor around the back of my tongue, Dick said.

The man with the golden voice had throat cancer. That tumor was nearly as big as a golf ball. Doctors removed it and what they could not get was treated with radiation and chemotherapy.

Fortunately, it sounds pretty bad but that’s the easiest one to cure, he said.

Five days a week for six weeks, he climbed onto a table, put on a mask, and held still under a machine that zapped him eleven times with a high-level X-ray beam. The procedure was painless but not the after-effects.

Your throat is just constantly inflamed and burned, like a bad, bad sunburn, he said.

He said he was angry at first, but he learned more about himself.

Well, I guess that I still had a little bit of fight in me, and I’ve got a lot to live for, he said. And that included his wife, son, stepchildren and grandchildren and countless friends.

His 30th and final radiation treatment at LDS Hospital in February 2013 took fifteen minutes, followed by high-fives and hugs all around, including with his radiation therapists.

With his wife Deb and son Dayne by his side, Dick rang the bell that cancer patients do after their final treatments.

He had lost 20 pounds on a liquid diet and could not taste a thing, but he looked forward to some favorite foods. 

The first thing I’m going to do, when I can taste, is get three kraut dogs and three chili dogs, man, and I’m going for it!”

Remembering a broadcast legend

“I would like to be remembered as somebody who really cared about that oath that I didn’t take but that I seemed like I took.” Dick said in 2019. 

That silent oath he made to himself was to hold the high standards of journalism. Nothing bothered him more than how some in America came to think of journalism as fake news.

We are not the enemy of the people, have never been and I will back anyone that I know personally as being responsible to carry that title as a journalist. That’s a very respected profession,” he said. “And, you know, you take it very seriously in this country because you have freedom of the press. Journalism is a fine profession and one we will always need, regardless of technology. Somebody has to find the answers for you and tell you, and that’s what we do.”

KSL 5 viewers trusted him to deliver the news and he did it with passion but he also wanted to share his private challenges to let us all know despite his “larger than life” image — he was one of us.

On Nov. 28, 2007, KSL rolled out the red carpet for Dick’s final newscast.

Dick, his wife and their son arrived at Broadcast House by limousine, the night he signed off the air after his long and distinguished career.

He defined who we were and still are: “Eyewitness News, it’s more than our name, it’s what we do!”

Dick Nourse was a broadcast legend and a dear friend to so many.

Dick’s funeral service will be held Friday, May 26, at 1 p.m. A livestream of the service can be viewed on KSLTV.com.

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TV legend and longtime KSL anchor Dick Nourse has died at 83