CBS journalist Maria Mercader dies at 54 of covid19

(CNN) -- CBS News producer and talent executive Maria Mercader died of Covid-19 in New York Sunday, CBS said. She was 54.

Mercader worked at CBS for three decades, getting her start in the network's page program, CBS said in a release. She most recently worked as a director of talent strategy.

She had been on medical leave for an unrelated matter since late February, the network said.

Mercader "courageously fought cancer and related illnesses for 20 years, enduring numerous treatments and surgeries," CBS said. "To her colleagues and family, she was an inspiration and a symbol of hope each time she returned to work after the latest medical setback threatened to end her life."

As a producer on CBS News' foreign and national desks, Mercader helped produce coverage of "some of the biggest breaking news," including the death of Princess Diana and the 9/11 attacks, the release said.

"A hard hit to the heart, news longtime colleague and friend Maria Mercader died from coronavirus," tweeted former CBS News anchor Dan Rather. "A paragon of grit and grace, she embodied the best of the CBSNews mission. Millions of Americans learned of the world through her efforts. Now our world is less with her loss. RIP"

In 2004, Mercader won an Emmy for business and financial reporting for her work producing a "CBS Sunday Morning" report on computer spam.

As a talent executive, Mercader "helped spearhead" the networks efforts to diversify its workforce, CBS said.

"Maria was a friend to all," said Laurie Orlando, senior vice president for talent at CBS News. "It's nearly impossible to be someone EVERYONE loves, but Maria was. She always had a warm hug, a word of advice or support and a big smile for everyone in her life. She was a bright light and will be sorely missed."

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