With Ruschell Boone, her laugh usually came first.
From deep within, Ruschell would let loose a laugh, even on a lousy day where she was out in the field covering a story where she was baking in the sun or trying to chase down a story with no leads.
A dedicated journalist, Ruschell knew that a smile was sometimes the only thing that could keep you going when you were following a news event that could be emotionally tough to tackle.
That's why it's so weird and so sad not to hear her laugh anymore. And it's so jarring that she is now part of her own devastating story with a tantalizing twist and an awful turn.
Diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year, Ruschell dealt with the news with a lot of courage and hope that she could pull through. And for a while, she really did. When most people would understandably have left the newsroom indefinitely, Ruschell returned and plowed through, continuing to anchor NY1's "News All Day" in the middle of treatments. One of the many tragedies of her death was us missing out on seeing what it would have been like for her to sit at the anchor desk for years.
In an industry littered with people who claim to like people but actually don't, Ruschell was a breath of fresh air. Ruschell genuinely loved meeting New Yorkers, talking with them and connecting. Whenever she joined the political team on election night or at a town hall meeting, a sparkplug fired, and whatever we were doing got a little bit more energy and a lot more humanity.
Back when I regularly threw a Memorial Day party at our house in the Rockaways, Ruschell was a regular, even "outing" her relationship with her co-worker (and later husband-to-be) Todd at a gathering at the house. She laughed when she saw me mentally connecting the dots as they entered the house together.
When a team of reporters was stationed at our house during Hurricane Sandy, Ruschell was also a key presence, interviewing locals who were shell-shocked not only by the storm's flood but also by a fire that nearly burned down a block of buildings in Rockaway Park. I'll always remember sharing a satellite phone, talking to the assignment desk in the dark on the night after the storm.
Far beyond the Rockaways, where she had a loyal following, Queens residents appreciated her love for the borough that served as her beat for years.
In the newsroom, Ruschell was someone you couldn't help but love to be around with her sense of humor and positive spirit. She even (briefly) turned me into a University of Miami basketball fan when her brother was on the team.
The city and NY1 are far worse off without her. It's fine to be sad (and you should be) but please remember that hearty laugh through any of your tears.