The newsroom at ABC 7 continues to mourn the loss of one its longtime cameramen, Michael Dukewich of Rolling Meadows, known simply as "Duke" to all of his co-workers.
He died Saturday after an apparent heart attack. He was 58.
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"Today we are all shocked, sad, a little angry and sorrowful that we have lost such a great guy," wrote ABC 7 Morning News Executive Producer Doug Whitmire in an online tribute on the station's website.
"We work in a business that often finds our people in some challenging situations," Whitmire added. "Weather can be brutal. Neighborhoods can be rough. But as we spoke about Duke today and remembered so many wonderful stories, every single person would say how positive he was."
News reporter Paul Meinke said Dukewich's upbeat personality was contagious and often extended into the field when he was on assignment with one of the reporters.
"On our side of the camera, we're often nervous and edgy," Meinke said, "but he could bring some measure of calm. At the same time, he was a consummate pro. He knew how to frame a shot and tell a good story."
Dukewich learned his craft from his father, John Dukewich, who also worked as a cameraman at Channel 7. The elder Dukewich worked as a general assignment cameraman and on the "Monday Night Football" team coverage.
Dukewich grew up in Elk Grove Village and graduated from Elk Grove High School in 1972. He studied television production at Florida International University in Miami, where he graduated in 1976.
His career at ABC started in 1977 covering news and sports, and over the last 10 years he helped to develop "ABC 7 Chicago News This Morning," starting his workday every day at 4 a.m.
"He was always out on the street shooting weather and features with Roz Varon and Tracy Butler," says Steve Erwin, a fellow ABC 7 cameraman. "He really liked shooting the fun stuff, like covering things on Navy Pier or doing live shots at high school pep rallies."
In February, Dukewich was part of the ABC crew that descended on Conant High School to tape an early morning performance by the cheerleading team as part of its "Cheerleader Cheer Off" competition.
"He loved those kind of fun, feature pieces," Erwin added.
Working in the mornings, gave him plenty of time to watch his son play football on Friday nights, something colleagues say was one of his greatest joys. Clay Dukewich is a starting tight end for the Fremd High School Vikings.
Besides his son, Dukewich is survived by his wife, Christy, as well as his mother, Carol, and sisters Sandra Andrews and Nancy Dukewich.