Veteran NBC10 broadcaster Edie Huggins has died after a "hard fought, lengthy illness," the television station announced this afternoon. She was 72.

Huggins began at WCAU in 1966 as a feature reporter on the Big News Team with John Facenda and spent her 42-year-career in television at NBC10. She would have turned 73 on Aug. 14.

"In her uniquely dignified way, Edie helped open the doors and blazed the trail that made it possible for so many of us to be here," said NBC 10 Vice President of News Chris Blackman. "Personally, I will always appreciate her support ... checking in on me whenever I had a rough day. Although she'll no longer be in our newsroom, she'll remain in our hearts."

Huggins was the first African-American woman to report on Philadelphia television. In the 1970's she co-hosted "What's Happening," with Herb Clarke and also hosted "Morningside" a live-magazine-style program. In recent years, her regular "Huggins Heroes" segments profiled local people doing great deeds.

A founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists, Huggins also this year was scheduled to be honored by the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. She will be honored posthumously at the Emmys on Sept. 13.

In 2006, Philadelphia City council declared March 30th "Edie Huggins Day" and adopted a resolution to honor her more than 40 years of accurate news reporting and her dedication to the City of Philadelphia. Her honors include inductions into the AFTRA and Broadcast Pioneers Halls of Fame and being chosen as one of the "Outstanding African-American Philadelphians of the 20th Century" by the Urban League of Philadelphia. She was honored by the Philadelphia Chapter of American Women in Radio & Television as "Communicator of the Year" in 1993.

The Missouri native graduated cum laude from the State University of New York and formerly worked as a registered nurse. She was cast in "A Man Called Adam," a film with Sammy Davis, Jr. and several years ago co-starred in "So Big," an independent film. Huggins was also a longtime member of the Bright Hope Baptist Church where she started a nursing scholarship for women.

Huggins is survived by her son, Hastings Edward, a complex engagement manager with IBM and a daughter, Laurie Linn, a television producer and specialist at Broadcast Advertising.