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Colleagues, community mourn WKYC's Danielle Fink

11:47 AM, Jan 22, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Tributes from across Northeast Ohio for WKYC's Danielle Fink, killed in a weekend car accident.

"As a friend, she was the absolute best," Monique Jackson said of her friend and co-worker of more than 20 years. "You couldn't find a better person. So engaging, so warm, so welcoming."

Fink, 48, died in a one-car crash early Sunday morning in North Olmsted. She joined WKYC in 1991 as an assignment editor, after 5 years at WEWS-TV.

Her duties put Fink in daily contact with local law enforcement and emergency responders, whose respect she earned.

"I was shocked and saddened when I learned the news about Danielle," said Commander Thomas Stacho, of the Cleveland Police Department, who for years was the department's Public Information Officer.

"I can speak on behalf of the entire law enforcement community, to say that she will be sorely missed."

Known as @DeskChick on Twitter, Dani Fink had more than 1,000 followers, who were left to consider one of her final tweets which said, "I had a simply fantastic day.  I love who I am."

Her Facebook page was adorned with pictures of the Cleveland Indians, one of her greatest passions.  As a season ticket holder who often took her elderly mother to games, Fink caught the attention of the Indians organization years ago.

"The thing I will cherish and remember the most about her was her big smile," said Curtis Danburg of the Indians' public relations department. "Anytime I saw her she had a huge smile and her passion for Indians baseball."

"And it was wonderful that she brought her mother to games. When mom died, we missed her, and we will very much miss Danielle."

All who knew Danielle Fink well agreed that her Catholic faith played a major role in every aspect of her life.

"That's one thing I know about Dani, that she was so full of hope, and love, and her faith came into play so many times," shared Lydia Esparra, a longtime friend and former WKYC colleague.

"Her faith was firm. She believed in the Catholic Church. She gave her time to the Church, and her energy and strength to God," said Fr. Damian Ezeani, of Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, where Fink was a lifetime parishioner and sang in the choir.

"I looked for her Sunday in the choir at 11 a.m. Mass," Fr. Damian said as he comforted co-workers at WKYC-TV on Monday. "She was not there and did not greet me after Mass.  Then we got the news."

The priest, who is a native of Nigeria, said Dani Fink was the first to welcome him to the parish. She sent him a Facebook message before he had even left Africa. They established a close friendship when Ezeani arrived last August.

"She did everything she could to make our liturgical activities lively," Fr. Damian remembered. "She used the gifts and talents God gave her, to worship God."

Fink was related through her aunt's marriage to Blessed Pope John XXIII, who was born Angelo Roncalli. She wore a medallion of the pope around her neck at all times.

Calling hours are scheduled on Friday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Maher Melbourne Funeral Home, 4274 Mayfield Road, South Euclid.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, 12601 Shaker Boulevard, in Cleveland.

At that time, the choir in which Danielle Fink so fully and enthusiastically chanted praises for so many years will say their earthly farewell to her in song, but Fr. Damian says Dani's voice will live on.

"I pray and I hope," he said softly, "that she will now join the choirs of heaven to sing before the throne of God."

WKYC-TV

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