Longtime WCVB chief meteorologist Harvey Leonard gave his final nightly weather forecast Wednesday, capping a career that spanned five decades, including more than 45 years covering New England’s fickle weather.
Leonard announced his retirement earlier this month, adding that he will continue as the station’s chief meteorologist emeritus beginning in the fall and will contribute to “severe weather and climate coverage important to our community,” according to a statement.
The station has been honoring Leonard in the runup to his final night on the air. Interviews with area residents describing what he means to them have been broadcasted over the last two weeks.
On Wednesday, during the 5:30 p.m. newscast, WCVB aired farewell remarks from some of the region’s top sports personalities, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, retired Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, and retired Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
At 6 p.m., the broadcast honored Leonard with a reel of highlights from his long career, starting with his forecast of the Blizzard of ‘78 to his coverage of Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
The broadcast closed with Leonard giving a statement from the anchor desk, where he was joined by members of his family as he thanked them, his colleagues, and viewers for their support throughout his career, which he said has “been a true privilege.”
“Where do I begin? You know, I’ve been so blessed to have a true passion, meteorology, and to be given a chance to express that passion for so long in a place I love to work and live,” Leonard said, looking directly into the camera. “It has been a true privilege. And over that time, so much has happened in your life and in mine. When I started my career, I was single, and as I finished … I’m blessed to have a wonderful wife, two fabulous daughters, two terrific sons-in-law, and five incredible grandkids, each one a true blessing. I love all of them very much, and I thank them for all of their love and support.”
Before he spoke, the station played video of various Channel 5 employees giving what they felt are the best words to describe the man known to many as the “dean of Boston weather,” from “trusted” and “comforting” to “revered” and “legendary.”
Leonard said he had a “remarkable professional family” at WCVB.
“This has always been and still is a very special station,” he said. “From our weather team to our news team to everyone who works behind the scenes, all of my co-workers make it as professional and warm a setting as there could ever be in this industry.”
Leonard then thanked his audience, many of whom have reached out to congratulate him in the two weeks since he announced his plans to step away from his daily role with the station.
“The outpouring I’ve been receiving from so many of you has really been overwhelming,” he said. “It’s not just how many of you have taken the time to write. It’s what you’re saying. It’s clear it’s coming from your heart, and it has deeply touched mine. It may take me a while, but my intention is to get back to each and every one of you.
“Thank you for watching all these years. Be well. I wish all of you the very best. Thank you so much.”
Leonard, 73, was joined at the anchor desk by his wife, Lorraine, and a daughter and a grandson. He delivered his final forecast during the 11 p.m. broadcast, where he was again joined by his family along with evening anchors Ed Harding and Maria Stephanos for a final farewell before signing off.
“I am so blessed to work with you guys, and to have you guys as my family,” Leonard said. “So much love that you give me, I can’t begin to tell you.”
“We’re the ones who are blessed, Harvey,” Harding said.
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