Barry Cunningham, beloved PIX11 reporter, dead at 77

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NEW YORK — Longtime PIX11 reporter and Emmy-award winning journalist Barry Cunningham has died. He was 77 years old.

In his decades at PIX11, Cunningham was known as a great man and a terrific journalist, according to former colleague and PIX11 anchor Kaity Tong.

“He was a mainstay of the PIX11 family,” Tong said. "His stories were always knowledgable, informed, often humorous. He was so well respected and much loved by those of us who worked with him."

Cunningham got his start at 24 as a print reporter, and was the youngest war correspondent to go to Vietnam, his former wife Laura Shaine tells PIX11.

"He risked his life repeatedly to go on  dangerous missions and report back from the field," Shaine said.

Cunningham transitioned to TV news in 1978, "and never looked back — he loved his work and the more adventurous the better," Shaine said.

As a White House correspondent in the 1980s, Cunningham was with Ronald Reagan when former president was shot in 1981. He also went on many presidential trips, including to Paris for the Versailles Summit in 1982.

The Emmy was awarded for Cunningham's breaking news reporting on a water main break at Grand Central in 1991.

"Wherever disaster struck, Barry was likely to be there — covering train wrecks, fires, murders, plane crashes and he covered  live-aid to remedy famine in Ethiopia," Shaine said.

Cunningham enjoyed "risky assignments," and even went scuba diving into the East River to search for a body.

"There was almost zero visibility, I found a wrecked car" Shaine said Cunningham reported, "with characteristic mordant humor."

Cunningham was "the quintessential newsman," colleague and PIX11 reporter Marvin Scott said — and many others agreed.

"A consummate journalist, Barry traveled the world covering stories of global importance," PIX11 photographer John Frasse recalled. "We worked on many stories together, and I recall so many great times when Barry would tell of the places that he had traveled to, and the people that he had met in pursuit of his career."

Cunningham died unexpectedly from heart failure on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, at his New Jersey home, Shaine tells PIX11. His entire family was home for the holidays at the time.

Marvin Scott, the senior correspondent at PIX11 News, worked with Cunningham for decades.

"Barry was an esteemed colleague and dear friend.," Scott said. "He was a reporter's reporter who knew how to write a story and how to tell it in his own unique style.  Barry's work ethic embodied integrity, professionalism and class, characteristics that will forever serve as his legacy."

Cunningham is survived by his daughters, Alexandra and Jasmine; sisters, Marcia and Karen; his wife, Serena; and former wife, Laura Shaine.​

See examples of Cunningham's work: