News 9 Anchors Mourn “Beautiful Friend” Neena Pacholke

News 9 anchors are remembering Neena Pacholke as a close friend who loved her central Wisconsin community.

By Angie Orellana Hernandez Aug 30, 2022 9:29 PMTags
Watch: In Memoriam: Fallen Stars of 2022

Neena Pacholke will always be loved by her News 9 colleagues.

The Wisconsin news community are sharing emotional tributes to the late news anchor, describing her as a "beautiful person" and an "incredible friend." Neena's News 9 co-anchor Brendan Mackey, was among reflecting on his friendship with his late colleague, sharing how much fun he had alongside Neena.

"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," Brendan wrote on Facebook, accompanied by various photos of the duo together. "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," he continued. "Let's remember Neena Pacholke for the beautiful person she was. The brightest light in the room. The biggest smile and the funniest laugh."

Celebrity Deaths: 2022's Fallen Stars

The former point guard for the University of South Florida women's basketball team died on Aug. 27, her sister Kaitlynn Pacholke shared on Instagram. Neena, who had worked at News 9 in Wausau, Wisconsin since 2017, was 27 years old.

During his on-air segment on Aug. 30, News 9 Chief Meteorologist Justin Leow shared images of Neena from her early days of working at the station, noting how well she adapted to life in Central Wisconsin after moving from her native Florida.

"I know why I'm extra sad about Neena's passing, and I know why you—the viewers—are also extra sad," Justin said through tears, "Because she came here and she wanted to stay here. She went to your veteran's cafe in Wisconsin Rapids, she went to your event, she went to your Cherokee fundraiser."

He continued, "And that is something really special for someone to come here, from outside, and think that 'central Wisconsin is so nice, I'm going to stay here and I'm going to work here'."


News 9 Anchor Kathryn Halvorsen posted a carousel of selfies on Instagram with Neena and shared that she was "struggling with the unexpected loss" of her closest friend.

"Neena always left people better than she found them. She checked in often and put everyone else's needs above her own. We worked opposite shifts but always made time for each other.. and sadly there is never enough time," Kathryn wrote. "We were looking forward to so many more *times* together. We were each other's support system.. I am so numb to know I couldn't save you."

"The greatest friend I never knew I needed," she continued. "Your legacy will live on.. and sweet angel when I went to church the other day I felt your presence .. I know you're up above sunshine."

If you or someone you know needs help, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit for additional resources.