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Barrier-Breaking Journalist Gwen Ifill, A Onetime Springfield Resident, Dies

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Bay Path University
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Gwen Ifill received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at what was then called Bay Path College in 2007.

Journalist Gwen Ifill, a co-host of the PBS NewsHour, died Monday of cancer. She was 61.

Ifill was born in New York, but her father’s work as a pastor led the family to Springfield in the early 1970s. 

Ifill occasionally returned to the area, and was awarded honorary degrees in 2005 from Smith College and 2007 from Bay Path, where she listed the things she loves about graduation ceremonies.

“The students who’ve finished the last exam. The faculty who love you dearly but are glad to see the back of you,” Ifill told the crowd. “And it’s good to be back in Longmeadow, a familiar stomping ground for me, at least a little bit over.”

Ifill went to the former Classical High School in Springfield — and was in choir and on the debate team, according to an article in the old Union-News, and would run to Friendly’s with her brother after school for a milkshake.

She attended Simmons College in Boston and went on to break racial and gender barriers in journalism.

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