🔴 John Roland anchored the Fox 5 10:00 news and later helped launch a 5 p.m. newscast

🔴 He nearly died on the air after being stricken with diverticulitis

🔴 Roland was living Florida at the time of his death

Fox 5 New York announced the death of longtime anchor John Roland at the age of 81.

He anchored the station’s 10 p.m. newscast from 1979 for years before moving to the 5  and 6 p.m. newscasts for the final year of his on-air career before his retirement in 2004.

Roland spent his last years living with his fourth wife Zayda in their Florida home, according to the station. A cause of death was not announced.

Roland began his career in the 1960s with NBC News in Los Angeles and was hired away by Metromedia. He was moved to New York in 1969 covering politics during the week and anchoring on the weekend.

In 2002 he nearly died while at work after being stricken with diverticulitis, a disease which inflames the bowels, while on the air.  He had 40% of his colon removed and 18 blood transfusions, according to New York Post coverage at the time.

Roland was also suspended in 1988 for an on-air argument with Joyce Brown, aka Billie Boggs, a mentally-ill homeless woman. He apologized on the air for letting his "emotion replace the objectivity" he was known for and said he spoke with Brown.

The on air moment John Roland felt the effects of diverticulitis
The on air moment John Roland felt the effects of diverticulitis (Fox 5 New York via YouTube)

Fond memories

Colleagues and viewers remembered Roland fondly.

"Sitting next to John was always a learning lesson," former co-anchor Rosanna Scotto said. "He took pride in his writing and his down-to-earth communicating. It was never more evident than anchoring next to him during the 9/11 attacks."

"Sorry to hear. John Roland was a great no nonsense news man. Grew up watching him as a child. May be rest in peace," read one comment on the Fox 5 New York Facebook page.

Roland also made several movie appearances including the 1980 John Ritter film, "Hero at Large,"  "Eyewitness" in 1981 and the 1998 romcom "The Object of My Affection" starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dan.alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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