2009-07-01 / Obituaries

Gary Papa, professional sportscaster

Papa Papa Gary Papa, 54, formerly of Amherst, died Friday, June 19, 2009, at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. He battled prostate cancer for more than five years.

Mr. Papa was born Sept. 2, 1954, and graduated from Canisius High School. He earned a degree in history and political science from Cornell University, where he did the morning news for the campus' radio station, and later earned a law degree from the University at Buffalo Law School.

In 1976, he began a professional career in broadcasting in Steubenville, Ohio, before returning home to Buffalo as a sportscaster for WGR-TV, Channel 2 news.

Mr. Papa moved to Philadelphia in 1981, where he joined WPVI-TV, Channel 6, as a weekend sportscaster for nine years. He became the station's Action News' sports director in 1990.

In August 2003, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and announced on the air that he was undergoing chemotherapy — the cause for his shaved head — in 2004.

Mr. Papa subsequently became involved with the Foundation for Breast and Prostate Health. He served as co-chairman for the annual "Run 4 Your Life" Father's Day Prostate Run/Walk.

He continued working the 6 p.m. newscast and traveled with the city's sports teams. Until last year, he also co-hosted the Saturday evening public-affairs show Primetime Weekend — a role he assumed after broadcaster Jim O'Brien died in a skydiving accident in 1983.

Mr. Papa managed to appear upbeat on the air, even during the rare occasions when addressing his condition. He was praised by public figures and other stations for his life work and brevity for publicly announcing his illness.

He made his last on-air appearance on May 13, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Mr. Papa is survived by his wife of 23 years, Kathleen; sons, Tucker and Nathaniel; parents, Theresa and Frank; brothers, Ronald, Jeff and Greg; and sister, Judy.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 11, at St. John the Baptist Church in Kenmore. Private services will also be held in Philadelphia.

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