WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) Former State Senator and NewsChannel 7's first anchor and news director Walter John Chilsen died Christmas morning at the age of 95 after a brief illness, according to his family.
Chilsen was the first voice on-air at NewsChannel 7 back in 1954. He served as anchor and news director from 1954 to 1964.
"We went on the air in October, 1954. I made the first announcement putting Channel 7 on the air, and I take great pride in that," said Chilsen in a 2009 interview with NewsChannel 7.
He was inducted into the Wisconsin Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2005. In his hall of fame induction Chilsen was described as central Wisconsin's most authoritative news voice during his time on-air.
Chilsen was perhaps best known for his public service. He served six terms in the Wisconsin State Senate, serving the 29th district from 1966 to 1990. He also served on the Town of Weston Board for 17 years.
Chilsen's son Paul Chilsen tells NewsChannel 7 his father understood how to fight for what you believe in politically, but still be able to reach across the aisle and work with those who disagree with you.
Former Congressman Dave Obey released a statement on Chilsen's passing:
"Walter John Chilsen was an honorable practitioner of politics. He had strong beliefs but believed that in politics there were opponents but not enemies. His brand of politics will be missed."
Aside from his long broadcasting and public service careers, Chilsen's family will remember him as someone who loved to laugh and loved to make other people laugh.
Chilsen is survived by his wife Rose, his eight children, his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.