The longtime KIRO-TV journalist had a memorable sense of humor but also deep compassion, friends and family members say. “He had to interview people who lost loved ones, and his heart would break for them,” said daughter Anna Fleet.
From riding on a yacht with Robert Redford to boarding a trident submarine and multiple aircraft carriers to flying upside-down in a trick helicopter, Chris Legeros’ 31 years as a broadcast journalist for KIRO-TV were full of adventure.
“I’ll never forget standing next to (Robert Redford) on the boat and thinking, ‘My God, they pay me to do this,’ ” he said in an interview for Greeks in Washington last year.
After battling pancreatic cancer for the past year, Mr. Legeros died in his Lake Forest Park home Friday morning. He was 62.
Friends and family remember Mr. Legeros for his sense of humor, his compassion and his ability to listen and put people at ease, which served him well in his career.
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“He had to interview people who lost loved ones, and his heart would break for them,” his younger daughter, Anna Fleet, 28, said Saturday. His older daughter, Elena Legeros, 30, added, “He always said the greatest gift anyone could give was their ear.”
Born in Minnesota on Nov. 12, 1952, to Greek parents, Mr. Legeros felt a deep connection to his ancestry and an even deeper one to the Greek Orthodox Church.
After graduating high school in 1970, he attended the University Of Minnesota School of Agriculture to become a veterinarian, but after realizing he couldn’t “hack” the necessary chemistry courses, he went into broadcast journalism, he later said in interviews.
He started his career in Minnesota, then moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he met his wife, Julie. They married in 1981 and moved to Seattle when Mr. Legeros got the job at KIRO two years later. He worked there until he was diagnosed with cancer last year.
Mr. Legeros started each workday trying to lighten the mood, knowing there was always a chance he would soon be covering some tough weather assignment or maybe a tragedy. KIRO reporter Essex Porter, who started in the newsroom a few months before Mr. Legeros, said his friend and colleague liked to begin each day on an “even keel.”
“He might be singing the theme song from ‘Patty Duke’ … or we had a campaign called The Spirit of the Northwest and he had memorized most of the words.” Porter remembered. “Instead of saying good morning, he would break out with ‘The spirit of the Northwest is KIRO; we’re part of your life every day,’ even putting a little lounge singer into it.”
In his 39-year broadcast career, Mr. Legeros won three Emmy awards along with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, The Associated Press, United Press International, Best of the West and the Washington Education Association.
During an Emmy ceremony this past summer, Mr. Legeros was inducted into the Northwest Chapter of the national Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Silver Circle, which honors a lifetime of dedication to the television industry.
The announcement mentioned some of his most memorable assignments: following the Army Reserve’s 50th General Hospital to Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War and covering a cruise-ship grounding in Ketchikan, Alaska, a deadly airline accident in Hawaii, devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma and dozens of forest fires and floods in Washington.
During the ceremony Mr. Legeros received a standing ovation.
Despite his local celebrity, Mr. Legeros was humble and didn’t seek the spotlight, friends and family said — unless perhaps when he was dressed up as a hula dancer to emcee an event for his friends or the church.
Every holiday season friends looked forward to receiving his family Christmas card, always something original.
A photo included in a slideshow on KIRO’s website shows the card from Julie and Chris Legeros’ first winter in Seattle in 1983. Julie is in rain gear and Mr. Legeros is holding an umbrella. They are holding signs that read, “send sun.”
“He was just one of the most sincere, genuine, unassuming and straightforward, but also a fun-loving jokester,” said Paul Plumis, a close family friend from the Greek Orthodox Church.
Outside of his family, work and faith, Mr. Legeros loved photography, fishing and relaxing on his porch watching the hummingbirds, his daughters said.
In the past year, during his unanticipated retirement, he was able to pick up iconography — painting icons, his daughter Anna said.
“It was something he wanted to learn how to do for a long time,” she said. “I’m really glad that he got to do it. He didn’t get to enjoy much of his retirement, and that was something he had been really excited about doing.”
In addition to his wife and daughters, Mr. Legeros is survived by his sister, Doria Saros; brother, Nick Legeros; and a niece and nephew.
As is Greek Orthodox tradition, a Trisagion service will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 2100 Boyer Ave. E. A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the same location.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to All Saints Camp in Gig Harbor.