Loved ones and colleagues of beloved KTLA anchor and reporter Chris Burrous gathered Friday afternoon in Whittier to bid a final farewell to the journalist weeks after his sudden death.
The late broadcaster was remembered for his love of family and his ability to connect with viewers during an emotional memorial service inside SkyRose Chapel at Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuaries.
"Today would’ve been Chris's 44th birthday. I want you to know that the Chris Burrous you all loved so much was exactly the Chris Burrous I knew for the past 20 years," his wife, Mai, said during the service. "He was lightning in a bottle."
Born on Jan. 11, 1975, Burrous was the son of a farmer and NASA engineer. He graduated from Chapman University with a degree in broadcast journalism before working as a reporter and anchor for more than 20 years — up until his sudden death on Dec. 27.
His death is being investigated as a possible overdose, authorities have said.
Before joining KTLA in 2011, Burrous worked as an anchor at its sister station in New York City, WPIX, and reported at several other stations throughout California. He met his wife while the two were both working at KGET in Bakersfield.
"On-air or off, out and about in a fire line, or cutting in at the buffet line, he was really exactly that silly, whip-smart, funny," Mai said. "The most thoughtful person I ever met."
The couple has a 9-year-old daughter named Isabella, who spoke at the service along with Burrous' father.
"Chris, we love you and we’ll always miss you," his father said.
A true fixture at KTLA, Burrous helped develop the station's Weekend Morning News upon his arrival — shaping the program with his signature humor and unpredictability as an anchor.
"Immediately, he broke through, and he connected with all of us and he connected with the people who watch the shows," KTLA entertainment anchor Sam Rubin said of Burrous' first days at the station.
Another KTLA Morning News colleague, Wendy Burch, lauded the late journalist's ability to bring stories to life.
"I think that was your dad’s gift — he could take just this tiny, tiny, little story and make it so interesting for all of us," Burch said, addressing Isabella.
Thousands of messages expressing love and support for the Burrous family have been sent into the KTLA newsroom in the wake of his death, a testament to the connection he shared with those who watched him on-air.
"I could have never fathomed the enormity of your affection for him," Mai said. "So thank you all for helping to keep Chris alive, in your hearts and in your memories."
As loved ones paid tribute, the late broadcaster's daughter addressed the chapel full of mourners.
"In my heart, he’s still there and alive and I hope he is for all of you, too," Isabella said of her father.