WRAL honors Suiter for decades of service

Posted December 18, 2008
Updated December 19, 2008

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— After more than two decades of anchoring the 6 p.m. sportscasts, Tom Suiter said farewell to the desk on Thursday.

The WRAL legend was honored during his final 6 p.m. newscast with a tribute from fellow sports anchor Bob Holliday.

During the newscast, Holliday presented Suiter with an Extra Effort Award for his legendary broadcast career.

“Just being with you all has just been the highlight of my life,” Suiter said to anchors David Crabtree and Pam Saulsby.

Suiter also received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian honor granted to a citizen in the state.

In a taped message, Gov. Mike Easley reflected on his memories of Suiter.

“I still remember when I started little league baseball. I was on your dad’s team and your team, and I was the youngest and you were about the oldest. You’d always come along and encourage me and you were nice to all the kids. From that day forward I knew you were special, and you’re great with sports,” Easley said.

Suiter thanked viewers for welcoming him into their homes each night.

“The people have been so wonderful. I’ve received so many cards and letters and e-mails and phone calls,” Suiter said.

Following the broadcast, Suiter was presented with a large sheet cake featuring pictures of him through the decades.

Suiter will continue to do special assignments for WRAL, such as his Extra Effort Award and the Football Friday show. Jeff Gravley will anchor both the early and late shows during the week, beginning Friday.

Suiter has worked at WRAL since 1971 and has anchored the 6 p.m. news since 1981.

Also on Thursday, WRAL News announced a scholarship in Suiter’s name. Each year two Extra Effort award recipients will be selected to receive the $500 scholarships.

Friends and colleagues from throughout the course of Suiter's long career joined him on the set Thursday.

WRAL anchors Charlie Gaddy and Bob DeBardelaben were on hand and were among the first to share their memories and well-wishes in a party at the station after the newscast.

DeBardelaben offered three keys to a successful retirement, "Stay busy. Stay healthy. Have a working wife."

After each member of the current WRAL Sports team shared a story, producers from Suiter's past took the microphone.

Suiter has worked with two generations in the Jennings family. Father Jay is a photographer for Football Friday. When his son was born in 1982, Suiter announced it on the air. Decades later, that child, Jason Jennings, is a reporter for WRAL Sports.


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  • angora2 Dec 19, 2008

    As far as having "a little hotdog in him," that hotdog stuff is a big act. The Tom that goes home is not the Tom on WRAL!

  • angora2 Dec 19, 2008

    Tom's cousin told me when the families got together she would watch Tom, as a little boy, pretending to be a sportscaster. How cute is that?

    Tom is a very nice man with a huge heart.

  • jackadoo Dec 19, 2008

    Tom was good, but he had some hotdog in him. Does anyone really watch the sports news on TV anymore?

  • veyor Dec 19, 2008

    The best sportscaster ever! "Donna Gregory was at the game!" I remember when the three point line was first enacted, and you took us out to the court and showed us how easy it was by shooting some three pointers yourself. We'll miss you Tom.

  • giterdungirl Dec 19, 2008

    I don't even like sports, but Tom always did great broadcasts to draw you in... :) Best Wishes Tom!

  • The Fox Dec 19, 2008

    Let's roll the video tape.......

  • valentine girl Dec 19, 2008

    Tom, good luck in your new career. It is great to know that you are not completely gone from the scene and that we will continue to be able to witness your good spirit and affable nature as you introduce your audience to hardworking high school players. I can remember when I lobbied WRAL to make sure that you were appointed to your Sports Anchor job in 1981. What a pleasure to know that someone of your caliber has remained at WRAL for all these years. It speaks highly of your integrity and that of WRAL-TV. Good luck and have fun.

  • Coach K is GREAT Dec 19, 2008

    Tom, I remember when you came to Vaiden Whitley Middle School and spoke to my 7th grade class. That was well over 20 years ago.

    Tom, you were a home run in my book "BOOOOM"
    You will be surely missed...

  • rcrdngcountry Dec 19, 2008

    tom, you are a pro. i don't even like sports that much, but i
    still enjoyed your reports. best wishes.

  • missjohnston04 Dec 19, 2008

    Although I haven't been able to watch much 6pm news in the last few years, I would usually watch football friday (even though I am not a football fan) I always love to find out how the high school teams do and Tom always does a great job. Many kids have been touched by his generousity. God Bless Tom and Wral for this.