While away with her husband and two children in Florida, news anchor Jessica Gladden of NBC Illinois tragically became ill and was taken to the hospital before passing away.

With deep sorrow, we announce that Lesley Swick Van Ness, who served as an anchor at WGEM-TV and executive for its parent company Gray Television, was sadly pronounced dead on Monday in Naples, Florida.

“In the eyes of a small community, she was a celebrity,” Tom and Neat Brower shared their condolences in response to an online obituary.

“It is with a very heavy heart that we share some devastating news with you,” in a statement released by Muddy River News, Jennifer Dale, the Vice President of Recruiting at Gray Television, declared her opinion.

“Lesley Van Ness, who we have been so fortunate to have as part of the Gray family, passed away this (Monday) morning.”

Dale added: “Lesley had been on vacation with her beautiful family in Florida when she fell ill and was hospitalized last Thursday.”

“Lesley and her husband Tom have two precious young boys,” the statement says.

“Please keep all of them in your prayers. We will keep everyone posted on arrangements.”

Van Ness was remembered by her colleagues as a formidable individual.

”She was a powerful personality,” Matt Schmidt, who served as an anchor for WGEM-TV from 2007 until 2014, communicated to the news station.

“She could walk into the newsroom and instantly take over. She just had a commanding presence about her.”

Schmidt continued: “Sitting on the news desk was an awesome experience.”

“She wasn’t afraid to do the dirty work and wasn’t afraid to work the extra hour, especially if it was something that was really impacting the community,” stated WGEM-TV meteorologist Brian Inman.

After graduating from Illinois State University, Van Ness began her career as a news reporter at WGEM-TV (the NBC local affiliate in Quincy, Ill.) back in 2003. Her professional journey is well documented on her LinkedIn page.

Fast forwarding to 2006, she was now anchoring on the weekends. By 2008, her role had grown even further; she took control of the weekday evening and late-night news broadcasts.

Later, Van Ness shifted her focus to the corporate sector and was appointed as Talent Acquisition Specialist for Quincy Media in 2016.

“Family priorities changed and I jumped at the chance to become Quincy Media’s first corporate recruiter from 2016 to 2021,” Van Ness posted on her LinkedIn page.

As of 2021, Gray Television has successfully acquired Quincy Media – enabling them to have a combined portfolio of local television stations in an incredible 113 markets!

The late Van Ness will be remembered in a service of remembrance at St. John’s Anglican Parish, Quincy on Monday 10 am.

“When I think of Leslie I bring up memories of a beautiful child swimming in the Hamilton swimming pool,” Tom and Neat Brower penned a heartfelt message.

“She did her job with integrity,” they added.

“Lesley will always hold a place in our hearts.”