Legendary KGO anchorman, institution Van Amburg passes away at 86

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- For a generation, Van Amburg was the face and voice of ABC7 News. We are sad to report that he passed away last week.

Fred Van Amburg started at KGO-TV in the early 1970s. He went only by his last name, Van Amburg, for most of his career.

Van Amburg wasn't just an anchor, he was an institution -- leading each newscast with his trademark opening. "Good evening, and here's what's happening."

Van Amburg was who people tuned to when news broke.

For nearly two decades, he reported on some of the Bay Area's most notable news events -- from Patty Hearst and the SLA to the rise of the Black Panthers and the killings in Jonestown.

Days after Jonestown, he broke the news of the assassinations of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

Van Amburg wasn't always behind the news desk. He reported on the terror of the Zodiac Killer stalking the Bay Area and worked to expose the many cults that popped up in the region in the '70s.

ABC7 News' David Louie traveled to China with Van Amburg and was among the first western journalists allowed to report from inside the communist country when relations were normalized.

Van Amburg left ABC7 in 1986. "I am expected to say goodbye, but I am not going to say goodbye," he said on air. "Just that I won't be saying hello to you anymore."

Van Amburg died at his East Bay home last Thursday, June 22. He was 86 years old.

In a statement released by the station, KGO remembered Van Amburg's lasting legacy.

"KGO-TV is saddened to learn that a legendary member of the ABC7 News team - Van Amburg - passed away last week," the statement read. "Van Amburg was a local television icon and a respected journalist who Bay Area viewers trusted for decades. We extend our sympathy to his family during this difficult time."
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