The death yesterday of pioneer television journalist Edie Huggins, the first African American woman to report on the air in the city, has touched thousands of Philadelphians who admired her stories about ordinary people.

Huggins was 72. Her career spanned more than 40 years, but she may be best remembered for her "Huggins' Heroes" vignettes on NBC10, in which she profiled plain people, many of whom had devoted their lives to helping others. Viewers were invited to nominate "ordinary people doing extraordinary things" for the recognition.

Huggins began her TV career at WCAU in 1966. She later co-hosted What's Happening, a midday news program. In the mid-'70s, she hosted Morning Side, a daily show known for its lively interviews of celebrities and politicians, with segments on health, finance and entertainment.

Earlier this year, the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists honored Huggins with a lifetime achievement award. She also received the 2008 Governor's Award from the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. She was a member of the Philadelphia Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame and received the 2006 Hall of Fame Award from the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

The versatile Huggins, who after college became a registered nurse, was an unofficial consultant for The Doctors and actually appeared as an actress on other soap operas, including The Edge of Night and Love of Life. All of that while raising two children as a single parent.

It was Huggins' love of life that was evident in the stories she told about Philadelphia and its people.