Andrea Guy-Halat’s passion for helping the less fortunate, rooted in her native Appalachian upbringing, propelled her to career success as an author, a model, a radio reporter and a television news producer in the nation’s top TV markets.
Her morning routine reading the Bristol, Tenn., morning newspaper, starting at age 9, bolstered her life-long dedication to making a difference in people’s lives. She also was shaped by the teachings at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Blountville, where her mother, the late Ruby Rodefer Guy, was a long-time Sunday School teacher, and her late father, William C. Guy, a church council member.
Ms. Guy-Halat worked for 13 straight years on the overnight shift as a TV morning newscast producer – mostly as the only woman in leadership in “the television-news booth” – at WFMY-TV in Greensboro, N.C.; KYW in Philadelphia and KTRK in Houston.
After leaving the news business, Ms. Guy-Halat worked in public relations and as the outreach coordinator for a Houston foundation that runs medical and dental clinics serving immigrants, refugees and the underprivileged.
All the while, Ms. Guy-Halat told only a few that she had been on dialysis for the past four-and-a-half years. She died Feb. 4 of kidney failure. She was 57.
Despite her prominent career, Ms. Guy-Halat most loved her daily 7-mile run; enjoyed watching the sunrise during her regular morning swim outdoors; and, with her husband of nearly 35 years, Hakan Halat, doted on their rescue dogs and enjoyed outdoor grilling and discovering new restaurants.
Mr. Halat, who grew up in Istanbul, Turkey, met Ms. Guy-Halat while he was working at his cousin’s factory in South Carolina. Mr. Halat preceded his wife in death on Oct. 13 at age 58.
Ms. Guy-Halat’s best friend, Janna Patrick of Spring, Texas, said she appreciated Ms. Guy-Halat’s work expertise while also enjoying her “great sense of humor, her smile and her laughter.”
“She was always looking on the bright side of life,” Patrick said.
The two hit it off instantly when they met at a public information officers’ conference.
“It was like we had known each other a million years,” Patrick said. “That kind of friendship comes around only once in a lifetime. I feel very privileged that I was her friend.”
Ms. Guy-Halat’s ebullient outlook emerged partly from her rural, free-wheeling upbringing in Blountville, Tenn., in which she excelled as a “south paw” softball pitcher for a girls’ Central Heights Ruritan Club team; became a junior lifeguard at age 12; and reveled in being part of the Sullivan Central High School traveling choir that experienced religious services of all different faiths – the more dramatic and emotional, the better.
Her exceptionally high ACT and SAT test scores upon her 1979 graduation from Sullivan Central High School made her an enviable college prospect.
She was graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism in 1983, and remained a big “Gamecocks” fan for the rest of her life.
In college, faculty members chose Ms. Guy-Halat as the only freshman to cover presidential speeches and other major political events on campus.
She started her career as a radio reporter and weekend anchor at WSPA-AM Radio in Spartanburg, S.C., and then became a radio news director at WTHO-FM/WTWA-AM in Thomson, Ga., and at WGAC-AM Radio Augusta, Ga.
Ms. Guy-Halat’s favorite stories were about uncovering, and ultimately helping to thwart local politicians’ plans to build a huge garbage dump in a scenic area of rural Georgia, and of learning the intricacies of golf as she covered the Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club for CBS Radio.
“From that point on, Andrea loved to watch the Masters on TV, and fondly recalled the years that she had walked every inch of that beautiful course,” said her sister, Sandra Guy, a Chicago journalist and adjunct professor at DePaul University.
Ms. Guy-Halat hosted radio shows where she interviewed newsmakers such as President Carter, his Assistant Secretary of State Hodding Carter III, Jesse Jackson, rock star James Brown, Barbara Bush and many others.
Ms. Guy-Halat left her radio career to be a TV news producer, starting in 1992 as a producer for the investigative reporter at WFMY-TV in Greensboro, N.C.
She produced the news in Philadelphia and Hartford, Conn., before doing so in Houston, where she enjoyed working with long-time investigative reporter Marvin Zindler.
Ms. Guy-Halat continued to send her husband and, after his death, her sister, a morning news lineup via email right up until her death.
“Andrea punctuated her morning news email lineup with her personal insights, ranging from funny quips to sharp barbs to references to her favorite country-music songs that certain news items reminded her of,” said her twin sister, Sandra Guy. “Two of her favorite songs were Alan Jackson’s ‘Little Man’ about corporate takeovers leaving mom-and-pop businesspeople behind, and
Tim McGraw’s 'Humble and Kind.'”
During her news career, Ms. Guy-Halat modeled part-time for hair-salon books, reflecting her love of fashion, the latest styles and her pride in her strenuous workout routines.
She also loved history, and wrote the book, “Historic Fort Bend County,” (Historical Publishing Network (November 24, 2010), published by the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce.
As outreach coordinator for Ibn Sina Foundation, Ms. Guy-Halat took pride in the sponsorships she developed with corporations such as Walgreens and Bank of America to provide affordable medical care, back-to-school supplies and healthcare resources to those most in need. She made sure that the Chick-Fil-A cow made an appearance at the health fairs that she coordinated.
A letter to Ms. Guy-Halat from a woman she referred to a medical clinic read, “I would not have been able to see a doctor without your help. Once again, thank you.”
“That letter really epitomized Andrea’s big heart,” Sandra Guy said. “She always reminded me that work wasn’t everything. She was adamant that I open my heart to love, and told me how amazingly freeing it was to truly forgive someone. She was my hero.”
Friends are invited to celebrate Ms. Guy-Halat’s life at Noon on Feb. 24 at St. Martin's Lutheran Church, 1123 Burney Road, in Sugar Land, TX. A reception will follow.
Donations may be made in Ms. Guy-Halat’s name to the Humane Society or to Honoring Hope & Faith Rescue, Inc., a non-profit dog rescue organization at 3375 Westpark Dr., #341, Houston (1-866-774-HOPE (4673).