What happened to Lesley Swick Van Ness? Tributes pour in as former Illinois anchor dies on vacation aged 42

Lesley Swick Van Ness recently died at the age of 42 (Image via LauraMiers/Twitter)
Lesley Swick Van Ness recently died at the age of 42 (Image via LauraMiers/Twitter)

Former news anchor at WGEM-TV Lesley Swick Van Ness passed away on April 10, 2023, from a short illness while on vacation at the age of 42. While her cause of death wasn't revealed, it was said that she was hospitalized due to a sudden illness while on vacation. Lesley was hospitalized on Thursday and passed away a few days later.

The news was confirmed by Gray Television Vice President Jennifer Dale, who said that Lesley was on vacation in Florida at the time of her death. She added:

"Lesley and her husband Tom have two precious young boys. Please keep all of them in your prayers."

VP and General Manager at 13 WREX Ed Reams expressed grief on Facebook by sharing a few pictures featuring him with Van Ness. He described Van Ness as a great friend and an awesome human.

He added that the two had worked together at Quincy Media where they recruited new journalists and employees to the company. Reams said that they would travel the country together and that as they got to know each other, they became friends who talked about everything from their work to their lives.

Ed Reams mentioned that Van Ness was always interested in journalism and broadcasting and also loved her husband Tom, two sons, and her family. He wrote that Van Ness helped several journalists and employees search for their first jobs in broadcasting.


Lesley Swick Van Ness gained recognition for her work as a news anchor

Lesley Swick Van Ness with her husband Thomas Van Ness (Image via Lesley Swick Van Ness/Facebook)
Lesley Swick Van Ness with her husband Thomas Van Ness (Image via Lesley Swick Van Ness/Facebook)

Born on December 28, 1980, Lesley Swick Van Ness went to Hamilton High School. She then went to Illinois State University where she pursued a degree in Bachelor of Science Cum Laude.

Following her graduation, Lesley began working as an intern at WGEM and later became the weekend anchor in 2008. She started to appear frequently during the evenings and was a recruitment specialist at Quincy Media. She joined the recruitment division of Gray Television where she was involved in the creation of fellowship programs, paid internships, and job opportunities for journalists.


Lesley tied the knot with Thomas Van Ness in June 2012 at a wedding ceremony held at Quincy-based St. John's Anglican Parish. They welcomed two sons in 2014 and 2016. Before their marriage, the duo was spotted at different events, including the 2016 Cubs World Series win.

She worked at WGEM for 13 years and was working for Quincy Media as a recruitment specialist before her death.


Netizens pay tribute on Twitter

Lesley Swick Van Ness gained recognition over the years for her flawless work as a news anchor. Twitter was flooded with tributes when people heard about her demise.

Her funeral services will be held on April 17, 2023, at 10 am at St. John's Anglican Parish, and no formal visitation has been allowed so far. Her obituary stated that her friends and family will be attending the services to celebrate her life. A celebration of her life is scheduled in Morton, Illinois and the date for the same shall be revealed soon.

Lesley is survived by her husband Tom and their sons, Sterling Thomas Van Ness and Cameron Lyle Van Ness.

Say goodbye to a fan-favorite show HERE

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Edited by Madhur Dave
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