Obituary: Catherine Milton / Trailblazing journalist who had long career at WTAE
May 17, 1930 — Dec. 30, 2016
January 3, 2017 10:03 PM
Catherine “Cathy” M. Milton
By Courtney Linder / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
During an afternoon spent horseback riding with her sister many years ago, broadcast journalist Catherine M. “Cathy” Milton was bucked off the animal’s back. “She was really banged up,” said her younger sister Dolores Powell of Blackridge.
But rather than go straight to the emergency room, she scuttled off to work the next day, injured. Then she asked her sister to go to her home and gather the belongings that she would need to go later to the hospital. “Meet me at the station after I get off,” she told her.
Her work ethic was unparalleled. “She was fun, but she was serious,” Ms. Powell said.
“She told my mother ‘I want to be on the radio,’ ” she said. “Mother said ‘if that’s what you want, then that’s what you have to work toward doing.’ ”
For nearly four full decades, Ms. Milton graced the airwaves and television screen with her lively reporting, boasting an illustrious career that would pave the way for more women and people of color to enter the media industry.
Ms. Milton died Friday at her home in Monroeville of complications from dementia. She was 86.
Beginning her career in 1956 at WLOA Braddock and WEDO McKeesport, Ms. Milton began learning how to master running a radio production. A year later, after finding her own sponsors, Ms. Milton joined WMCK McKeesport and hosted her own show — “The Date with Cathy Show.”
Here, she began acquiring the popularity that would decorate her career through 1995, namely as a general assignment reporter at WTAE-TV for 27 years and as the host of “The Black Chronicle” in addition to co-hosting “Pittsburgh Dialogue” and “AM Pittsburgh.”
“She knew every person who she needed to know in the African-American community in this town, to the point that she could pick up the phone and just ask a question,” recalled former co-worker Regis Bobonis Jr., managing editor at WTAE-TV. “You couldn’t help but respect who she was, because she could talk to anyone — it didn’t matter if you were black or white.”
Throughout her years reporting, Ms. Milton was honored with more than 50 awards, including a Golden Quill Award for her series “Prison Grays” and “25 Years of Broadcasting Excellence” from Renaissance Magazine.
Outside the newsroom, Ms. Milton’s family recalls her elegant dignity and graciousness.
“She taught us how to be a woman, how to do things the right way,” said niece Taunya Huggins of McKeesport. “She taught us etiquette ... how to use our soup spoon, not to put our elbows on the table.”
Among Ms. Huggins’ favorite memories of her aunt were tender moments when the two flipped through old photos of Ms. Milton alongside celebrities she had interviewed. Nephew Tony Proviano of Wilkinsburg recalls similar moments where he was starstruck by his aunt.
“She asked me to drive around in the news van for Channel 4 and wave to people,” he said.
Mr. Proviano remembers his aunt as generous and hospitable above all. Ms. Milton worked as a trustee at her local church, volunteered for a bread ministry that served leftover Panera Bread food to those in need and often quietly put money into people’s pockets with a smile.
“She cared about her career, but more importantly she took care of people,” Mr. Proviano said.
Ms. Milton also is survived by a brother, James Maddox of Wilkinsburg; stepsister, Lettie Ann Jordan; as well as another niece and four other nephews.
Services took place Monday at Alfieri Funeral Home in Wilmerding. She was buried at Penn Lincoln Memorial Park.
The family suggests memorial donations be made to the Animal Rescue League in Larimer or the Promise Hospice, 121 N. Main St., Suite 310, Greensburg, PA 15601.
Courtney Linder: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1707. Twitter: @LinderPG.