From filling huge shoes to leaving a lasting legacy: Mary and John are ready for the next chapter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We are celebrating Mary and John, who have spent the last three decades on your TV. Thirty years of telling your stories, sharing what’s going on in your neighborhood and more. Now it’s time for us to hear their stories. Encapsulating thirty years of history is not easy -- particularly with these two who have been documenting history for all that time.

So let’s start back in 1992 when Mary Baer and John Gaughan joined the Channel 4 team. Mary a 5:30 p.m. anchor and health reporter and John, the weekend weatherman.

When asked if it was hard to move as a new mom, Mary said, “You know what, I was so young then. No. I was just packing up the car and let’s go. And we were seriously ready to start a new life. And I fell in love with this place. I had no idea. Tom Wills said ‘you’ll get sand in your shoes and never leave.’ I was like yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ll be here a little bit, learn and go back to Oregon where I came from.”

John said, “I got sand in my shoes. Four days after I moved here and that was it. I was hooked, people were awesome. City was awesome and I had everything we wanted.”

The two who knew little about Florida fell in love with Jacksonville and never left. Mary eventually took over as Channel 4′s lead anchor in the early 2000′s following the departure of Deborah Gianoulis and John took over for longtime Chief Meteorologist George Winterling after he retired.

When asked about this, Mary said, “Humbling. Because you’re stepping into huge shoes in both cases.” John added, “For sure. And as I just listed three other people on the evening shift and we all knew George was going to wind it down.”

The two say they have been part of history for decades from the formation of the Jacksonville Jaguars to the massive impact of hurricanes like Irma which decimated the city.

“I remember that iconic moment on set with Tom Wills and he just stopped everything. And just got everyone’s attention that this is a life threatening event. And I remember I reached over and touched his arm. That took off and it was this moment. I got tears in my eyes thinking about it,” Mary said.

“There was reason to talk about it because we had some near misses. We had Hugo in ‘89, Floyd in’ 99. They’d get close, we’d get a little wind, tree damage. Now we had one a category 3 coming right as us,” John remembered.

The two are embarking on next chapters in life -- for Mary she’ll continue with her love for horses and John is looking to focus on anything but the weather.

“I’m really passionate about animals and children and I’ve kind of tied that into something that I hope to take into my next chapter of my life. It’s called Grace Under the Oaks and it’s a therapeutic riding program. We call it adaptive riding and helps them get off the ground and heal. And heal emotionally, it’s beautiful what happens,” Mary said.

“There’s something about television and I don’t know how Mary feels about it. But you are pigeon holed to being a certain look, certain person, a certain way. I’m kind of looking forward to breaking away from what I have been for 30 years,” John said.

That’s when Mary told John, “You better be prepared for the comments at the grocery store.”

About the Author:

Scott is a multi-Emmy Award Winning Anchor and Reporter, who also hosts the “Going Ringside With The Local Station” Podcast. Scott has been a journalist for 25 years, covering stories including six presidential elections, multiple space shuttle launches and dozens of high-profile murder trials.