Channel 4 news anchor Tom Wills shares his special memories of Mary Baer and John Gaughan

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – I’d like to share with you a couple of my John and Mary memories. I want to start with some of the very first comments that former news anchor Deborah Gianoulis and I made about Mary 30 years ago--and we stand by them today. “Mary Baer has fit into our newsroom from the first day she got here. It seems like she’s been here all along.”

So many Mary memories over three decades but I have one that stands out from all the rest. 2016, Hurricane Matthew was threatening us with destruction and possibly even deaths. Because of my then 41 years as a newsman here on Channel 4, and the relationship that I have developed with you, our viewers, I felt compelled to speak to you personally about the extreme dangers this hurricane posed.

I had just received on my phone a dire warning from NOAA. I had not had a chance to tell Mary what I was about to do as I began to read the warning--she listened as I grew emotional sharing this very troubling message. And...she pats my arm.

WATCH: Mary & John: Thanks 4 Thirty Years podcast

That’s it. She patted my arm to comfort me. That’s Mary in a single moment. Always my partner, always supporting me.

Like a steady breeze on a stormy day, John spent many sleepless nights steering us through hurricanes, nor’easters, floods and more.

We are grateful for his calm and reassuring voice. Especially during the most recent hurricanes -- Ian, Dorian, Michael, Irma and Matthew.

Years ago, I got a personal lesson on how much our viewers depend on John’s every word when our area is under any tropical threat and this was well before Matthew and Irma.

We had been doing nonstop coverage of some approaching hurricane which mercifully missed us. I came home at two in the morning, my wife Gina was still up, the TV was on, I told her how relieved I was that the threat was over. She told me John was still on the air so she was going to keep watching until John went off.

Who do you believe? Your husband or John Gaughan? I got my answer.

Click arrow above to watch Channel 4 anchor Tom Wills pay tribute to Mary and John

Mary Baer and John Gaughan will have their last broadcast on Channel 4, Wednesday, May 31.

Be sure to watch “Thanks 4 Thirty Years” airing June 8 at 7 p.m. on Channel 4. We will also post it afterwards for streaming on News4JAX+ and

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.