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Sister of news anchor who died at 27 remembers her: ‘She made you feel special’

“She was my younger sister, but I looked up to her,” Kaitlynn Pacholke said about her sister, Neena.
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/ Source: TODAY

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The sister of a beloved Wisconsin morning news anchor who died of suspected suicide last week spoke out about their inseparable bond on TODAY Wednesday.

"She could make anyone feel incredible," Kaitlynn Pacholke said about her sister, Neena Pacholke. "If you knew her your whole life or if you knew her for five minutes, she made you feel special."

Kaitlynn and Neena Pacholke smile for a photo.
Kaitlynn and Neena Pacholke smile for a photo.@CoachKpac via Twitter

Neena Pacholke, 27, was found dead inside of a home in Wausau, Wisconsin, after officers arrived to conduct a welfare check Saturday morning for a woman who was reportedly making suicidal statements, police said in a statement to TODAY.

No foul play is suspected, and an investigation is still ongoing, police said.

"She was the happiest person, I thought," Kaitlynn told TODAY. "And I think that’s what makes it so hard, because I didn’t know she was in so much pain."

Neena recently celebrated her five-year anniversary with news station News 9 WAOW, and was engaged to be married in October.

"She was my younger sister, but I looked up to her," Kaitlynn told TODAY.

Kaitlynn's sentiments were shared by many in the Wausau community. WOAW said in a statement the team was "devastated" by Pacholke's sudden death.

Neena Pacholke smiles while at work at WAOW.
Neena Pacholke smiles while at work at WAOW.@Neena Pacholke via Facebook

"Neena loved this community and the people who lived here," the news station said. "She was a kind person with a big heart and a contagious smile and we will miss her greatly."

Neena's co-anchor Brendan Mackey said in a Facebook post being her co-anchor was "an honor."

"Everyday she made people smile, whether that was through a tv screen or just being an incredible friend. She was so happy and so full of life and a role model. Neena was so talented," Mackey said. "Let’s remember Neena Pacholke for the beautiful person she was. The brightest light in the room. The biggest smile and the funniest laugh."

Before starting her position at WAOW, Neena attended the University of South Florida, where she played as a point guard for the women's basketball team. USF said in a statement the team was "heartbroken to learn of the sudden loss of our beloved former teammate."