Longtime WBTV photojournalist dies after battle with cancer - | WBTV Charlotte

Longtime WBTV photojournalist dies after battle with cancer

Photojournalist Brad Stafford Photojournalist Brad Stafford
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

A longtime WBTV photojournalist has died after a battle with cancer.

Photographer Brad Stafford, who worked at WBTV for 41 years, passed away early Wednesday morning while in hospice care. His wife, Leslie, was at his side.

Brad struggled with an aggressive cancer after it was discovered just after Christmas.

"Brad had been a friend and colleague of us at WBTV for 41 years," WBTV News Director Dennis Milligan said. "He was a stalwart photographer. He was one of the nicest people you'd ever know. He always tackled every assignment with a sense of professionalism."

Monday was Brad's 67th birthday.

"It's much too early to be writing a note like this about someone we love," Milligan wrote in a note to staff Wednesday morning. "He was loyal to the end to WBTV and to all of us who work here."

Veteran anchor Paul Cameron worked with Stafford for nearly 34 years.

"When I walked into WBTV in 1981, Brad had already worked here for seven years," Cameron said. "He was a master photographer shooting 16 mm film when you had to know the mechanics of exposure, lighting and focus - settings done automatically in modern cameras."

"When it came time to assemble a team of photographers for the multitude of race specials we produced over my 15 years in sports, we leaned on Brad's experience. He willingly climbed the tower in turn 2, standing on a hot roof all day long to capture memorable racing moments," he continued.

"You could always count on Brad's work - a photographer's photographer," Cameron said. "This is just a small slice of what he contributed to our station for the last 41 years. May he rest in eternal peace."

Reporter David Whisenant says Stafford was "the most unpretentious person that I've ever known."

"The smile that you see in the pictures was real," reporter David Whisenant recalled. "There was a genuine quality to his personality that told you he was friendly and sincere."

Whisenant says Stafford was "one of about 5 or 6 people who worked at WBTV when I started 20 some years ago and who was still there until a few weeks ago."

"We worked together on several stories over the years. He knew that as a reporter who also operates the camera, I didn't have a lot of experience behind the viewfinder," Whisenant wrote. "He was very unselfish in helping me so that my video would be up to the expected standard. He didn't have to do that, but he wanted to."

Former WBTV sports anchor Kricket Morton expressed her thoughts on Facebook.

"Those that worked with him know what an outstanding person he was. Thoughtful. Kind. Generous. Funny. He will be deeply missed," she wrote. "I will cherish all the fond memories of working with him during my 13 years at WBTV."

Several WBTV news reporters and anchors packed their messages into 140 characters on Twitter.

"Friend, co-worker and gentle soul. God broke the mold when he created Brad Stafford," Maureen O'Boyle tweeted. "May you rest in peace now Brad. "

Molly Grantham posted a photo of Stafford and wrote that it was a "perfect, awesome photo of 41yr veteran [...] cancer takes the best of people."

"It's family. We're all thinking about our longtime photog Brad Stafford," Jamie Boll posted online. "One of the good guys in this biz."

Reporter Pamela Escobar tweeted, "RIP Brad Stafford I'm lucky to have been able to tell stories with you."

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VIDEO EXTRA: Brad Stafford & Carolina Camera photographers

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