Then-station general manager Bruce Avery in 2007 during Morning Wake-Up...

Then-station general manager Bruce Avery in 2007 during Morning Wake-Up Call radio show WRHU 88.7 FM at Hofstra University in Hempstead. Avery, who was also a News 12 meteorologist, has died at 69. Credit: Newsday/Michael E. Ach

Bruce Avery, a longtime general manager of Hofstra University’s WRHU-88.7 FM and former meteorologist at News 12 Long Island, died Saturday at his Ridge home at age 69.

The cause was prostate cancer, his wife Veronica Dillon said.

Avery, who retired last August from heading WRHU for 28 years, helped build up the college radio station that went on to win a plethora of awards from the National Association of Broadcasters, including the Marconi award four times in the past eight years, as well as prizes from the New York State Broadcasters Association and the Press Club of Long Island.

His former students described him as a father figure who was instrumental in guiding them through not only career choices but life milestones.

“Bruce changed the lives of probably thousands of students,” said Heather Cohen, vice president for programs on the executive committee of Hofstra University’s Alumni Organization. “He’s just been responsible for molding the lives of so many.”

Part of his legacy is the community he fostered through his nearly three decades at WRHU, said John Santucci, an executive editorial producer at ABC News who graduated in 2011.

“He stitched together a fabric of students over the course of generations, some of whom have become friends, many of whom have become colleagues in our business,” said Santucci, of Garden City.

Tim Scheld, chair of the Radio Television Digital News Association and former news director for WCBS, said WRHU had a stellar reputation in the industry.

“It has always had a reputation of churning out some of the best young journalists in this area and in fact in the country,” Scheld said. “It's because of the work that Bruce and others did over the years.”

In a 2009 video the university created to celebrate WRHU’s 50th anniversary, Avery recounted the station’s growth in the years since 1994, the year he became general manager. The number of student staffers grew from seven that June to 220, to 30 community volunteers and a 300-student waiting list, in 2009.

“Our goal is to get people who participate at WRHU to be able to go out to the industry and have productive and successful careers,” he said then.

Beyond getting students to be professionally ready, his former students said Avery cared deeply about their well-being and checked in with them long after they graduated.

Danielle Dellilo, who graduated in 2001 and works for iHeartRadio, said Avery helped her get through the death of her father when she was 20.

“He's always been there through the good and the bad,” said Dellilo, of Long Beach. “Every time I would get a new job, or I went on an audition, I would call him and say: ‘Hey, Papa Bruce, I just got this audition, and I got this job.’ … And he was like: ‘I knew you could do it.’”

Avery was born May 30, 1953, in Watertown, Massachusetts, to Austin and Marion (Smith) Avery. The family later moved to Connecticut where he graduated from Glastonbury High School in 1971. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Northeastern University and a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Emerson College in Boston, his wife said.

Avery worked as a meteorologist at TV stations in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The job at Hofstra brought him to Long Island, his wife said.

For two decades since late 1990s, Avery filled in for meteorologists at News 12 Long Island, his former colleagues said.

“He had great authority and broke complicated weather terms down into laymen's language,” said Drew Scott, a freelance NewsdayTV anchor/reporter and former News 12 anchor.

“It was always delivered with a smile and with great warmth,” Scott said.

In addition to his wife, Avery is survived by daughter Rachel Avery Conley of Glastonbury, Connecticut, son Marcus Avery, of Middletown, Connecticut, stepdaughter Katilyn Bifulco, of Brentwood, stepson Zachary Bifulco, of Cape Coral, Florida, brother, Roger Avery of Cumberland, Rhode Island, and grandson Lucas Conley, of Glastonbury, Connecticut.

A service will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday with a eulogy at 4 p.m. at Branch Funeral home on 551 Route 25A in Miller Place.

In lieu of flowers, his family asks donations to be made to the Bruce Avery Endowed Scholarship Fund at Hofstra University.

Bruce Avery, a longtime general manager of Hofstra University’s WRHU-88.7 FM and former meteorologist at News 12 Long Island, died Saturday at his Ridge home at age 69.

The cause was prostate cancer, his wife Veronica Dillon said.

Avery, who retired last August from heading WRHU for 28 years, helped build up the college radio station that went on to win a plethora of awards from the National Association of Broadcasters, including the Marconi award four times in the past eight years, as well as prizes from the New York State Broadcasters Association and the Press Club of Long Island.

His former students described him as a father figure who was instrumental in guiding them through not only career choices but life milestones.

“Bruce changed the lives of probably thousands of students,” said Heather Cohen, vice president for programs on the executive committee of Hofstra University’s Alumni Organization. “He’s just been responsible for molding the lives of so many.”

Part of his legacy is the community he fostered through his nearly three decades at WRHU, said John Santucci, an executive editorial producer at ABC News who graduated in 2011.

“He stitched together a fabric of students over the course of generations, some of whom have become friends, many of whom have become colleagues in our business,” said Santucci, of Garden City.

Tim Scheld, chair of the Radio Television Digital News Association and former news director for WCBS, said WRHU had a stellar reputation in the industry.

“It has always had a reputation of churning out some of the best young journalists in this area and in fact in the country,” Scheld said. “It's because of the work that Bruce and others did over the years.”

In a 2009 video the university created to celebrate WRHU’s 50th anniversary, Avery recounted the station’s growth in the years since 1994, the year he became general manager. The number of student staffers grew from seven that June to 220, to 30 community volunteers and a 300-student waiting list, in 2009.

“Our goal is to get people who participate at WRHU to be able to go out to the industry and have productive and successful careers,” he said then.

Beyond getting students to be professionally ready, his former students said Avery cared deeply about their well-being and checked in with them long after they graduated.

Danielle Dellilo, who graduated in 2001 and works for iHeartRadio, said Avery helped her get through the death of her father when she was 20.

“He's always been there through the good and the bad,” said Dellilo, of Long Beach. “Every time I would get a new job, or I went on an audition, I would call him and say: ‘Hey, Papa Bruce, I just got this audition, and I got this job.’ … And he was like: ‘I knew you could do it.’”

Avery was born May 30, 1953, in Watertown, Massachusetts, to Austin and Marion (Smith) Avery. The family later moved to Connecticut where he graduated from Glastonbury High School in 1971. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Northeastern University and a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Emerson College in Boston, his wife said.

Avery worked as a meteorologist at TV stations in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The job at Hofstra brought him to Long Island, his wife said.

For two decades since late 1990s, Avery filled in for meteorologists at News 12 Long Island, his former colleagues said.

“He had great authority and broke complicated weather terms down into laymen's language,” said Drew Scott, a freelance NewsdayTV anchor/reporter and former News 12 anchor.

“It was always delivered with a smile and with great warmth,” Scott said.

In addition to his wife, Avery is survived by daughter Rachel Avery Conley of Glastonbury, Connecticut, son Marcus Avery, of Middletown, Connecticut, stepdaughter Katilyn Bifulco, of Brentwood, stepson Zachary Bifulco, of Cape Coral, Florida, brother, Roger Avery of Cumberland, Rhode Island, and grandson Lucas Conley, of Glastonbury, Connecticut.

A service will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday with a eulogy at 4 p.m. at Branch Funeral home on 551 Route 25A in Miller Place.

In lieu of flowers, his family asks donations to be made to the Bruce Avery Endowed Scholarship Fund at Hofstra University.

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