Bob Paquette, senior news producer and local host of Morning Edition at WFCR-FM in Amherst, Mass., died unexpectedly May 28 of an apparent heart attack. He was 55.
For many listeners, Paquette was “the voice of WFCR every morning,” station General Manager Martin Miller said in a release. “There are no words to express our shock and grief over the loss of our colleague and friend Bob Paquette. Our heartfelt condolences and sympathies go out to Bob’s husband, Michael Packard, and to their families, friends and colleagues.”
“Believe it or not, getting up at 4 a.m. is not such a bad gig,” Paquette said in his profile on the station’s website. “I appreciate the time public radio gives us to tell a story and I am very grateful for the support of our listeners.”
In addition to his radio work, Paquette was known locally for “bartending sporadically in local restaurants,” according to the Valley Advocate newspaper in Northampton, Mass. He conducted weddings as a local justice of the peace. Paquette also counseled newly diagnosed cancer patients; he had been diagnosed and treated for lymphoma. According to his alma mater, University of Massachusetts Amherst, “Because of his skill in public speaking and his wit, he was often called to emcee charity events, and enjoyed participating in campus commencement ceremonies.”
An entry in Paquette’s online condolence book said simply: “Bob was one of the nicest people I have ever met.”
Paquette was born in New Bern, N.C., and grew up in Dracut, Mass. He enrolled at UMass to study dentistry but instead discovered the student-run radio station WMUA. After graduating in 1977, he spent time in Montana, California and Arizona, returning to WTTT-AM in Amherst as a reporter.
He joined WFCR in 1991, as a reporter and host, working eight years as news director, winning 10 Associated Press awards and four from Public Radio News Directors Inc.
Survivors include his husband and partner of 25 years, Michael Rice Packard; two brothers, Douglas Paquette (wife, Betty) of Dracut, and Thomas Paquette (partner, Deb Wagner), of Amherst, N.H.; mother-in-law, Susan Kalentek (husband, Joe), of Goshen, Mass.; two brothers-in-law and their wives, a sister-in-law and her husband, two nephews, six nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins and many friends.
The family suggests memorial donations to the Western Massachusetts Food Bank (97 N. Hatfield Road, Hatfield, MA 01038), any cancer-related charity, or WFCR.
A private memorial service was held June 4 at the First Church of Deerfield. The date would have been Paquette and Packard’s 25th anniversary. Go to tinyurl.com/BobPaquette to listen to an on-air tribute.