Sep. 5, 2023 By Bill Parry
Emmy award-winning reporter and NY1 anchor Ruschell Boone died Sunday due to complications related to pancreatic cancer, according to the new station where she worked for more than 21 years, mostly covering Queens. She was 48.
From covering the devastation from Superstorm Sandy more than two decades ago, to the powderkeg that followed as the city converted the Pan Am Hotel in Elmhurst into a shelter for homeless families in 2014 to being the only TV reporter in the room when she told a young Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that she had defeated Congressman Joe Crowley in one of the most stunning political upsets in Queens history, Boone was there to bring the news to the borough.
“Ruschell Boone was a skillful and dedicated reporter who knew Queens inside and out and who had a unique ability to connect with everyone she met,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “I am proud to have known her for so long and to have counted her as a friend. Her loss is tremendously saddening.”.
Boone was born in Kingston, Jamaica, before immigrating to the Bronx with her family when she was 11 years old, according to NY1, which she joined in 2002. It was just after she marked her 20th year at the station that she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
She spent the next nine months going through chemotherapy treatment keeping her fans updated along the way on social media. Boone was declared cancer-free and made a triumphant return to the anchor desk last March.
The following month, Boone served as the emcee at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s largest annual fundraiser, the PanCAN PurpleStride walk, raising national awareness and much-needed funds for pancreatic cancer research.
Boone shared with the crowd filled with fellow cancer survivors that she had stomach pain that wouldn’t go away and felt something was wrong with her body. She visited her physician several times, who suggested she change her diet and exercise.
At Boone’s urging, her husband Todd took her to the emergency room on June 14, 2022. She thought the ER doctor was going to tell her she had an ulcer, but he had even worse news for her.
“When that doctor came back and said, ‘Mrs. Boone, you can’t leave the hospital. I think you have pancreatic cancer,’ in that moment, I thought I was going to die,” Boone said. “For those of you who have ever been diagnosed with cancer, your whole world speeds up and slows down at the same time, and your whole life flashes before your eyes. And so it did for me.”
What followed were multiple rounds of chemo, Whipple surgery (a complex operation to remove the head of the pancreas), and an unwavering determination to beat one of the most aggressive forms of cancer — and to live for her husband and sons, Jackson and Carter. Her comeback lasted four months and Boone revealed last month the cancer had returned.
Following her death on Sunday, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams saluted Boone’s legacy.
“My heart and condolences are with the loved ones and colleagues of Ruschell Boone, who passed on Sunday after living with pancreatic cancer,” Adams posted to social media. “Jamaica-born and a CUNY graduate, she started at NY1 covering Queens and was a representation of our city’s beauty. May she rest in peace.”
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said she was saddened and heartbroken to learn of her passing.
“She was a true warrior & an inspiration,” Katz posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “From bringing news to our TV screens, to bravely sharing her battle with cancer, her positivity shined bright. My deepest condolences to her family.”
Mayor Eric Adams said Boone set an example for all New Yorkers.
“There were so many stories in her life from being an immigrant, pursuing her dreams, going to the various events and making New Yorkers feel special,” Adams said. “She made us all feel special. And her transition from the physical to the spiritual is going to break our hearts. But all of us are going to pass this way. The question becomes what did we contribute and pour into people while we were here? And she poured so much into all of us.”
Adams made the comments during an interview with Boone’s longtime NY1 colleague Cheryl Wills.
“And she was not covering just people to just check a box, she got into it, and they left feeling better about their circumstances,” the Mayor said. “And we are all better people because we had a wonderful, wonderful person who reported to us and showed us that no matter how much pain you have you could turn it into purpose. You never saw her frowning, she didn’t say woe is me. She said, why not me, I want to inspire others.”