orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

December 23, 2012

KFDM sports director shocked over anchor's death

Funeral services for Leger set

Gabriel Pruett
The Orange Leader

BEAUMONT — Mike Friedman has walked into the KFDM doors for 14 years and exception for vacations and other rare times, Bill Leger was always there.

Friedman said now he can’t imagine what it will be like walking in and not having the anchor in the office.

Leger was killed when his 2012 Jeep overturned after failing to negotiate a curve on Louisiana 93 and ended up coming to a stop in the northbound lane. Leger’s vehicle was then struck by a 1998 Ford driven by 52-year-old Clinton Melancon of Carencro, La., according to a police report issued by the Louisiana State Police.

Funeral services for Leger will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at St. Phillip Neri Catholic Church in Kinder, La. A memorial mass will take place from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church, 6824 Gladys Ave., in Beaumont. A gathering of family and friends will follow from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Family Life Center at St. Jude and both are under the direction of Broussard’s Mortuary.

“I am still in disbelief,” Friedman said. “I cannot imagine that I will not see him. I will not sit at the desk with him. I will not even be able to talk to him again. It is still so shocking.”

Melancon was arrested for DWI after officers determined his blood alcohol level was over the legal limit.

Police were still investigating and were unsure if Leger’s fatal injuries were a result of being hit by the Ford or if he was killed in the initial wreck. It was also unclear if Leger was wearing a seatbelt.

Melancon suffered only minor injuries and was booked into jail and later released on bond on DWI charges.

Friedman said Leger had the rare ability to make everyone feel as if they were his best friend when they were around. That gift is what Friedman thinks helped Leger become the personality in Southeast Texas he had become over 18 years.

“He was the perfect host,” Friedman said. “Even when we all just went to his house, he was the perfect host. It was his friendly way of doing things. He was your friend and I know that is how the viewers thought of him.”

Friedman said he got the call from his news director early Saturday to break the news of Leger’s death and he quickly called Kelli Phillips who sat beside Leger on the nightly news as an anchor for many years.

“It was rough,” Friedman said. “I am not one to sob or break down. That is simply not how I am. Last night (Saturday night) I was on Facebook and saw Bill’s daughter change her picture to one of her and her dad and I lost it. I have daughters of my own and I couldn’t imagine them having to go through life without a father. It really hurts to think of his family and what they are going through. It is a complete shock.”

Leger, 48, was a native of Kinder, La. and had been employed with KFDM for almost 20 years. He is survived by his wife Patricia (Tecoo) and daughters Tatum and Tori. He is also survived by his parents Stanley and Kathryn and aunt Rita.

Leger graduated from LSU in 1986 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. His weekly Restaurant Reports, which aired every Friday, became one of the station’s most popular segments.

Jenna Abshire Beach of Orangefield was one of hundreds of people who went on KFDM's Facebook page to speak to those left to mourn Leger's death.

“I am so sad to hear of Bill's passing,” Beach wrote on the social media site. “I know he will be sorely missed. Sending lots of prayers and blessings to his family and his KFDM family. Peace be with you.”

Over 650 people had commented on the post announcing his death on the website as of Sunday afternoon.