Tennessee Residents Mourn the Loss of Beloved WDEF Anchor John Mercer

WDEF news anchor John Mercer passed away on April 28, 2020. His career took him all over the country, winning many fans along the way.

Abi Travis - Author

Apr. 30 2020, Updated 11:52 a.m. ET

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Many residents of Chattanooga, Tenn. are heartbroken over the news of beloved WDEF news anchor John Mercer’s death. John passed away on April 28, 2020. Many have wondered: What happened to John Mercer? Here are some of the details behind John’s death, as well as a look back on his storied career.

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What happened to John Mercer?

“The News 12 family is deeply saddened to share the loss of one of our own. Our friend and colleague, John Mercer, passed away late last night,” an April 29 statement from WDEF reads. Although John’s death occurred during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, his family wants to make it clear that his passing is not related to the coronavirus.

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Rather, John’s family says his death was caused by “a heart-related condition,” and that he had “fought hard for six days” prior to his passing. John was preceded in death by his parents and a sister. The statement from WDEF says John’s twin daughters, Delaney and Maddie, “want him remembered as the best father ever, but they know he is at peace and happy to see his mom, dad, and sister again.”

His family is requesting privacy at this time as they begin to make arrangements. They request donations to the American Heart Association in John’s name from any of his many fans and well-wishers who are so inclined.

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John’s broadcasting career won him fans all over the country.

John became a household name in Chattanooga after joining WDEF in 2003, but his incredible career took him to several corners of the country. He was born in Indiana but grew up in the Seattle area after his family moved there. He attended Washington State University and officially began his broadcasting career in Yakima, Wash. as an intern. Eventually, he was hired as a reporter there.

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He also worked at KOBI in Medford, Ore. and KTVN in Reno, Nev. — it was in Reno that he became an evening anchor in the late 1990s. His former Reno co-anchor Wendy Damonte posted a touching tribute that was shared by KTVN:

“I am so incredibly sad to hear of John’s passing,” she said. “He and I had so many good memories anchoring the news together. From the implosion of the Mapes Hotel, to our school district-wide ‘Time 2 Act’ programs to prevent school violence, to spending every evening with him on the news desk. John was always so professional and so much fun at the same time. Journalism lost a great reporter and KTVN lost a great friend.”

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In his nearly 17 years on the WDEF desk, John covered everything from presidential visits to tornado outbreaks — including the tornado outbreak that occurred in Nashville earlier this year. In addition to being a stellar news anchor and a beloved father, John was also an accomplished musician. He often posted videos of himself playing the guitar on his Facebook page, much to the delight of his many fans and followers.

Our thoughts are with John’s family at this time, as well as with the many people who have admired him over the years.

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