Jilda Unruh, a former local news anchor and reporter based in Florida, has died. She was 65.
Unruh reportedly collapsed at her home and could not be revived. Her family says her cause of death has not been determined.
The long-time local news fixture left her last news job at CBS-owned Miami station WFOR in 2015. She had also worked at ABC’s Miami station WPLG for many years.
In an obituary, WPLG senior political reporter Michael Putney described Unruh as both “compassionate” and “tough as nails.” The Sun-Sentinel wrote that her colleagues “affectionately—and respectfully—called her a ‘pit bull in heels.'”
“She was my first co-anchor at WPLG back in 1991 when I was just starting my career in TV news,” WPLG anchor Louis Aguirre said. “I knew I was sitting next to a legend. A four-time Emmy-award-winning investigative journalist who had made a big name for herself in major markets like Miami, Boston and Minneapolis. Jilda was kind, patient, took me under her wing and helped me hone the skills I have today. I loved and respected her tremendously as a colleague and a friend. This is a big loss.”
Unruh started her career in Tulsa, Okla. before working in Boston. She joined WPLG as an anchor in 1988 before heading to Minneapolis. She joined WPLG for a second time as an investigative reporter in 1999 and stayed there until 2005, when she left to work as a media crisis consultant between 2005 to 2009.
“She took me under her wing and showed me the way,” WPLG investigative reporter Jeff Weinsier said. “If she loved you, she loved you, but if you were the target of one of her investigative pieces, look out. They called her the ‘pit bull in pumps.’”