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TV pioneer who began career at WJXT dies at 68

Co-workers at ESPN say Calvin Haywood died suddenly

Calvin Haywood died at 68 in Jacksonville, his hometown.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As many of you know, we are a family at News4Jax and a one-time member of our family is always a member. So it is with sadness that we share with you the passing of an unsung giant in the television industry who began his career here at Channel 4.

Calvin Haywood died at 68 in Jacksonville, his hometown.

Calvin, a graduate of Raines High School, was the director of our 11 p.m. newscast in the 1970s. While you never saw his face on the screen, you definitely saw his handiwork if you were watching WJXT that long ago or were a sports fan anywhere in this country.

Calvin went on to become the first African-American director of ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Before that, he helped launch ESPN’s Sports Center.

“As talented and creative as he was outgoing and magnetically friendly, Calvin Haywood was a pioneer, a great TV director, a relentless golfer, and a friend to all. His sudden passing leaves a painful void in the extended ESPN family,” ESPN’s longest-tenured employee, Bob Ley, wrote on Twitter.

We had a nickname for him at Channel 4: Calvin was our tower of power. Everyone who ever worked with him praised him for his friendliness, creativity and dedication to broadcast excellence.

Visitation for Calvin is scheduled from 5-7 p.m. Friday, May 7, at McKinney Family Funeral Home at 6507 W. Beaver Street and a funeral will be held a 1 p.m. Saturday at Builders of Faith Community Church, 5900 Ricker Road.

About the Author:

Tom Wills joined Channel 4 in 1975 and has co-anchored Jacksonville's highest-rated evening newscasts for more than 40 years.