Mark Zelich worked on his last special project for NewsChannel 7 in 2007. That was thirteen years after he retired as news director.
But "Z" still looms large here and all across broadcast journalism throughout the Midwest.
"There are very few people who have influenced as many working journalists especially in the Midwest as Mark has," says Joyce Garbaciak who worked here from 1985-87.
Young journalists who worked in Zelich's newsroom became known as Z's kids.
"When Mark hired you, you were part of the family. To be one of Z's Kids is the highest honor," says Tim Blotz who was at WSAW from 1985 to 1987.
How much a part of the family? Multiple Emmy winner Boyd Huppert works in Minneapolis now. He was here from 1984 to 1986 and saw Z's care first hand.
Huppert says, "he pulled out a scrap book of everybody who had ever worked for him, everyone he'd ever hired. The name was there, a picture and then he was tracking our careers."
"Each and everyone one of these people were special to me. Very special. They not only share in my career, they shared in my life," Zelich says.
How to interview. How to write a story. How to carry themselves in the office and out at a story. Hundreds of journalists learned their stuff from Z.
Passing along that knowledge to all those young newsmen and women is one of the main reason's Zelich was given a lifetime achievement award, the Mitchell V. Charnley Award, the highest recognition from the MBJA, The Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association.
Susan Siman, who worked at NewsChannel 7 from 1993 to 1995 says, "he will be very uncomfortable with his honor. He is very humble, nothing is ever about him. But no one deserves it more."