Note: As a young reporter in Baton Rouge, LA I had the honor and pleasure of working with Donna Britt for several years. She was one of the warmest and kindest people you will ever meet. She was always welcoming and ready to help you out as a young journalist. She will truly be missed!
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) – Longtime WAFB anchor Donna Britt, a dedicated journalist and beloved member of the community, has passed away after her courageous battle with ALS. Donna passed away on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021.
A married mother of two, she was a member of First United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge and the daughter of a Southern Baptist preacher. Her husband, Mark Ballard, serves as the Capitol Bureau Chief for The Advocate newspaper. Her two children include her daughter Annie and son Louis. She started at WAFB in 1980 as a news reporter. The WAFB news director at the time, Carlton Cremeens, heard Donna on the radio as a DJ and loved her voice. He called her in for an interview and hired her right away. She was eventually teamed up with George Sells and the two of them became one of the most successful news anchor teams in the country.
Donna announced her diagnosis to viewers during WAFB’s 6 p.m. newscast on July 27, 2017.
Following her diagnosis, thousands of viewers and well-wishers showed up for “Donna Britt Day,” a charity event hosted by Chef John Folse to raise money for ALS research.
Donna retired from the station and anchored her last newscast nearly one year after publicly announcing her diagnosis. She signed off the air on June 13, 2018 after 38 years of service at WAFB.
She was born while her parents were in the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft Worth Texas. Her mother trained for a ministry in church music. Her family moved as her father first preached in small-town Texas, then on to church fields in Georgia peanut country as well as along the Florida panhandle. When her father retired from the church ministry, the family continued to preach by rescuing failing churches. Donna played the piano and organ in multiple churches starting in the fourth grade. Over the years, she played for thousands of church services as well as hundreds of weddings and funerals.
In the eighth grade, an outstanding Bible teacher in Donna’s life told her how God had inspired her to sign her name in lower-case letters, an act of humility and a promise to always to push to achieve her best in everything. Donna adapted the same promise and always signed her name with lower-case letters, what she called a sign of continued commitment to “serve God in the most enthusiastic and excellent way possible.” Over the years, Donna supported numerous charities including those tied to research for ALS, Sickle Cell disease, HIV/AIDS and cancer. A breast cancer survivor, she was also very active with breast cancer fundraisers.
Donna served for 17 years on the Salvation Army’s Community Board. During that time, she spent 8 hours every week in December those 17 years manning a Christmas kettle.