According to WFSB-TV, longtime news anchor Denise D'Ascenzo died unexpectedly on Saturday evening at the age of 61.

In her 30 plus years behind the anchor desk at WFSB, she became the first woman inducted into the Connecticut Broadcaster's Association Hall of Fame. She was honored with two Edward R. Murrow awards, seven Associated Press awards, and a national Gabriel Award.

WFSB has reported that she died unexpectedly in her sleep and her family believes it was because of a massive heart attack. Her Channel 3 co-anchor Dennis House remembers one of his best friends.

Millions of people welcomed Denise into their homes over her 33 years at WFSB. Her colleague, Patricia Del Rio tweeted:

She was the best in the business. Classy, smart, funny, and kind. That voice, that smile. She was my friend and mentor. I was lucky to have known her.

Senator Richard Blumenthal issued this statement that appeared on the nbcconnecticut.com website.

Denise epitomized competence, class, and integrity. We will miss her huge heart, her boundless generosity, and her tireless grace. Connecticut has lost a television legend, invaluable voice and a dear friend.

Personally I found her reporting style not only top-notch but compassionate and sincere. Connecticut has lost a true television news legend.