Brad Woodard, a veteran television reporter for KARE-11 in the Twin Cities before joining a station in Houston, has died, his most recent supervisor said Thursday.
Woodard, who worked at KHOU from 2006 until March of this year, was found dead in his Houston home Wednesday morning, News Director Philip Bruce said in a posting Thursday on the Texas station's website. Woodard was 51.
"Authorities discovered his body … after a relative called police to check on him after Brad failed to return several phone calls," Bruce wrote. Investigators say there was no evidence of foul play, Bruce added.
Woodard, a native of Hayesville, N.C., worked for 16 years at KARE.
Before joining KARE, Woodard worked for WTVF-TV in Nashville and WSAV-TV in Savannah, Ga., where he anchored, reported and produced documentaries. He also appeared in the HBO film "Vietnam War Stories" and on the short-lived ABC television series "Breaking Away."
Before television, he was an officer in the Air Force and briefly flew jets.
He received an undergraduate degree in journalism from the University of Georgia in 1984, with minors in Russian and music. He was also a graduate of the Pushkin Institute for Russian Language in Moscow.
In its report on Woodard's death, KARE noted Woodard's many awards won while working the Twin Cities, including 1994, 2000, 2003, 2006 and 2007 Genesis Awards, now administered by the Humane Society of the United States, for his investigative reports exposing cruelty to animals used in research and drug production.
"Brad Woodard is one of the most talented reporters I've ever known," said KARE News Director Jane Helmke, who also worked as a producer with Woodard. "He had a gift for reflecting the human condition in both its splendor and frailty."
KARE reporter Boyd Huppert worked alongside Woodard for many years and remembered his longtime colleague as someone "who really cared and often formed long-lasting relationships with the subjects of his stories."
Huppert recalled a farmer that Woodard covered in 1997 during the devastating Red River floods whose land "was basically on an island."
When Woodard circled back to follow up with the farmer, he found out that a beef calf was named after him.
"That gave a lot of us a chuckle," Huppert said. "Brad was an avowed vegetarian."
KHOU's Bruce wrote that "we'll forever remember Brad as a kind man with a soft heart. He had two great passions — storytelling and animals. Frequently, Brad turned a light on those who abused or neglected innocent creatures and his work on animal abuse — and many other topics — won him multiple local, regional and national honors."
"Brad was very proudly an 'old school' journalist, always quick to defend an underdog in need," Bruce wrote. "Within the television news community, he was widely regarded as one of the best writers in the business."