FILIPINA American Katherine Creag, a reporter for NBC New York, died suddenly this week at the age of 47.
Creag’s passing on Wednesday evening, February 10, “was unexpected,” according to the network on Thursday.
A cause has not been determined, as of this writing.
“She had not been ill and was working as recently as Wednesday morning,” the statement said.
Creag joined WNBC in 2011 and was considered a beloved member of the News 4 family and was a fixture on “Today in New York” for years. She covered breaking news, extreme weather conditions, and everything in between like cultural moments.
“For ten years Kat was one of our cornerstones, always willing to help in any situation, whether it was a colleague in need or a shift that needed to be covered,” WNBC’s vice president of news, Amy Morris, said in an email to the staff.
“She was thoughtful, funny and relentless. And even on the toughest days she was a bright light, quick with a kind word and a smile,” she added.
“Creag was the first face many New Yorkers woke up to every day,” the station added.
Meanwhile, Creag’s colleagues described her as someone who had “boundless energy.” They also knew all about her passion for good Filipino food and would recommend new restaurants to try.
Creag’s Fil-Am counterparts from competing networks in New York also expressed their shock.
CBS2 reporter Hazel Sanchez Rapciewicz recalled Creag’s “infectious smile and bellowing laugh” and that she always looked forward to running into Creag while covering stories and events.
“Despite working at competing stations…as Filipinas we instantly connected. It’s just something Filipinos do…you meet another Filipino and instantly you’re family,” Rapciewicz posted on Facebook.
Another colleague, Nina Pineda of ABC7, remembered Creag, responding that they are “two Filipinas from another mother” when asked if they were sisters. She said she would remember Creag as someone who always supported her friends and colleagues.
“I never got to work with Kat, because she was the one who replaced me on Good Day New York when I left local news back in 2005. But I saw her smiling face at all the retirement and going away parties. We even laughed that FOX-5 hired a Filipina hoping the viewers didn’t notice,” posted Ernabel Demillo, who teaches journalism at Saint Peter’s University.
“Being a morning reporter in New York meant you were part of a special club and when you are a Filipina reporter in NY, you are automatically part of a sisterhood. So her loss feels like we lost a part of ourselves. Kat was a dedicated journalist and I hope she will be remembered for the commitment she gave to TV journalism, while also balancing being a mother of three,” Demillo added.
The “Today Show” on Friday, February 12 paid tribute to Creag, with colleague Darlene Rodriguez noting how she “was an extraordinary human being.”
“Kat was a light,” Rodriguez said. “She had this very special spirit and energy about her. She came into your space, you were just immediately uplifted because no matter what, she was always in a good mood.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio shared in a tweet: “Katherine Creag was dedicated to connecting with New Yorkers and sharing their stories. She worked tirelessly for our city. @NYCFirstLady and I send our deepest condolences to her family, friends and the @NBCNewYork community.”
Katherine Creag was dedicated to connecting with New Yorkers and sharing their stories. She worked tirelessly for our city. @NYCFirstLady and I send our deepest condolences to her family, friends and the @NBCNewYork community.https://t.co/q3WelvVT9b
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) February 11, 2021
Born in Manila, Philippines, Creag graduated from New York University and spent five years at Fox before joining NBC.
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Cher Calvin, a news anchor for KTLA, remembered how she and Creag were “the only Filipino Americans” in their journalism class at NYU.
“My mom always advised me to find the smartest woman in the room. And make her your friend. That was Katherine Creag. I gravitated towards her on the first day of class at NYU School of Journalism,” Calvin wrote in an Instagram post, sharing a photo of the two outside their TV newscast class. “Our friendship was instant. We took every class together…She was a natural. A go getter reporter, an excellent writer. Thorough. Versatile. Intelligent. Funny.”
During her career, Craeg won or shared in winning multiple Emmys, AP and Murrow awards that also took her to Dallas, Charlotte and Syracuse, the station said.
Creag is survived by her husband of 14 years, Bill Gafner, a son and two daughters.