Editor's note: This originally was posted to Gayle Guyardo's blog on Tuesday.
"There are so many things I forgot to say …"
I just got off the phone with The Tampa Tribune, and Tampa Bay Times, answering questions about the untimely death of my longtime friend and colleague, Bill Ratliff.
After only having a few minutes to digest the sad news my cell phone started exploding with calls … my heavy heart wanted to let them roll over to voicemail, but I didn't want to miss the opportunity to share the many fond memories I have of working with Bill Ratliff so I took each phone call. But, after hanging up ... I realized that there were so many things I forgot to say … so here's to you Bill.
Bill Ratliff was the consummate professional and it was such a privilege to sit next to a seasoned pro for so many years. From perfectly pressed suits and ties to never walking through the door a minute late – Bill Ratliff was a star on and off camera.
For 15 years we were side by side sharing heartbreaking news of officers down, destructive hurricanes, and long and painful wars.
But, there were days when there was good news, too and it was so much fun to share we could barely control our laughter. From the All Children's Telethon to Gasparilla parades, Bill Ratliff and I shared so many experiences together we could almost finish each other sentences.
It is important to know that Bill was a man who took great pride in being a television news anchor, never taking for granted what a blessing it is to work in this industry. Bill never wanted to disappoint the grammar teachers of Tampa Bay; he would pore over each and every script looking for factual or grammatical errors. If Bill were here right now, he'd have a field day proofing this blog.
Bill cherished his family; he would brag about his wife Linda's food and never miss an opportunity to be a proud father with stories about his tremendously successful children Shannon and Chet.
Bill was a loyal friend – during the darkest of days when I almost lost my now beautiful 12-year-old daughter Lindsay – Bill was one of the first by my hospital bed giving me hope.
Dear Bill, thank you for being there during the good times and the bad. Thank you for your friendship and always lending a shoulder to cry on.
Thanks for showing me your softer side. It was so funny to see how giddy you would get when I would sneak my dogs Izzy & Dolce into the studio from time to time. Especially knowing what a stickler you were for rules!
Thank you for always telling me how much you loved my children and cheering me on as a parent through each and every milestone.
Bill, I know you were a God-fearing man with great faith and that you are in a better place now, but I wanted you to know that your powerful voice, contagious laugh, and genuine smile will live on.
Rest in peace, Bill