Neena Pacholke was a morning anchorwoman for WAOW-TV in Wausau, Wisconsin, who died unexpectedly on Saturday, August 27, 2022.
The cause of death was suicide, her sister confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times. She was engaged to be married, the newspaper reported.
Pacholke was engaged to marry fiance Kyle Haase on October 12, 2022.
The television station cited mental health in its story but stopped short of revealing the cause of death. According to Daily Mail, Pacholke was found dead at her home.
“We are absolutely devastated to share with you all that Neena passed away suddenly. Please keep her family and friends in your thoughts,” WAOW-TV wrote on Facebook.
Heavy reached out to the Marathon County Medical Examiner’s office. Jessica Blahnik, the Marathon County Medical Examiner, responded in an email:
Our office is investigating the death of Neena Pacholke in conjunction with the Wausau Police Department. Due to the ongoing investigation, we are unable to release the information you requested at this time. I have forwarded your request to Captain Ben Graham of the Wausau Police Department, who is the primary media contact for the investigation. The Wausau Police Department will release the information as it becomes available. Please reach out to Captain Graham with any further questions.
“My sister was by far the happiest person I thought I knew,” said Kaitlynn Pacholke to the Tampa Bay newspaper.
“Sometimes you just don’t know what people are going through, no matter how much you think you know someone. … My sister had access to every resource you could imagine. She was loved by everybody. She was so good at her job.”
The station added:
Neena Pacholke, our beloved morning anchor passed away suddenly Saturday.
The entire team here at News 9 are absolutely devastated by the loss as we know so many others are as well. Neena loved this community and the people who lived here. She was a kind person with a big heart and a contagious smile and we will miss her greatly.
Here’s what you need to know:
A Friend Says That Pacholke ‘Had a Lot Going on Behind the Scenes’
Pacholke’s friend Ally Peters told Daily Mail: “She had a lot going on behind the scenes. It’s hard for people to understand but that’s what happens with depression and mental health. It was an on and off thing that we dealt with as her friends. We supported her, but she also hid it pretty well.”
Although Pacholke’s mental health struggles had worsened recently, Peters told Daily Mail she did not think Pacholke would take her own life, saying, “It seemed to me like that she had gotten through a lot and she seemed happy for the most part.”
Peters set up a GoFundMe page to help Pacholke’s family with funeral arrangements.
WAOW anchor Brandon Mackey wrote a tribute to Pacholke on Facebook. “I love you Neena,” he wrote.
“I have never met anyone in my entire life that is more loved than this girl. Everyday she made people smile, whether that was through a tv screen or just being an incredible friend. She was so happy and so full of life and a role model. Neena was so talented. She has so many friends and family members that love her so so so much.”
Whether we were skiing or coming up with fun bits for the show or out on a Saturday night she always made everything more fun. Being your co-anchor Neena was an honor. You were batman and I was robin. When I joined WAOW you made it clear we were going to work hard and compete with the best. Let’s remember Neena Pacholke for the beautiful person she was. The brightest light in the room. The biggest smile and the funniest laugh. I can’t believe it. I am still in shock. It hasn’t hit me yet. We all love you so much Neena 😞. I am going to miss you so much 💔.
Meteorologist Liz Braden wrote on the comment thread, “Neena was such a bright light. She spread joy & laughter in all the peoples lives she’s touched, mine included. She was so special. I’m heartbroken about the loss of my ‘Wisconsin big sister.’ Rest easy in His arms now, sweet friend 🙏🏻”
Daily Mail reported that Pacholke’s first love died of brain cancer as a teenager.
Tributes Flowed for Pacholke
Pacholke’s last post on Facebook came August 22 and was about a body being found at Rib Mountain.
Liz Mary wrote on Facebook, “Anyone that knew Neena knew she was special right away. She had this energy and smile that could pull someone in and brighten their day from miles away (which is what she did, every morning on News 9). That’s why people like me & the whole north central Wisconsin community loved her so quickly. It’s hard to imagine this world without you.”
On her website, Pacholke provided her bio:
Hi, I’m Neena Pacholke! I grew up near the beach in Tampa,FL where I spent majority of my life so far. After spending 10 years playing competitive basketball I decided to continue life as a student-athlete when I joined the University of South Florida’s Women’s Basketball team. During my time as an athlete I learned more life lessons than I ever realized. I learned what it takes to be team player, what it means to sacrifice, to lead, and to encourage.
Fast forward to graduation, I received a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communications with a minor in Leadership Studies. Before graduation, I agreed to trade the beach for snow — I started my career in journalism at WAOW -TV in Wausau, Wisconsin as a general assignment multimedia journalist.
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