Diana Lewis Remembers the Late Barbara Walters

The former WXYZ news anchor met Walters back when she was in college.
Diana Lewis. // Photograph courtesy of WXYZ

Barbara Walters made history when she became the first woman to co-anchor an evening news program in 1976 on ABC. With her passing on Dec. 30, 2022, journalists across the nation are reflecting on her influence in broadcasting and the doors she held open for women in media.

Former news anchor Diana Lewis, who retired from ABC’s WXYZ in 2012 after more than 35 years at the station, tells Hour Detroit that she had a chance encounter with a young Walters that changed her path and launched her into a career in journalism — one that has been much-heralded in the decades since.

Lewis recalls, “In 1962, I was a sophomore at Central State University in Ohio. My roommate from Montclair, New Jersey, was a friend to Barbara Walters and invited me to join her on a trip to New York to meet Barbara, then working at NBC. I never forgot how comfortable she made me feel. At the time, I was on a path to graduate with a degree in social work, but during our visit, Barbara suggested I give some thought to becoming a journalist.”

“Years later, I had the great fortune to return to New York to interview Barbara about her new position on 20/20,” Lewis adds. “It was incredible to have the opportunity to thank her in person for her inspiration. She was an empowering woman and such a public trailblazer. … She opened doors for career women in all walks of life.”

Barbara Walters was an American Broadcast journalist from 1951 until her retirement in 2015. Over the years, she appeared as host on a variety of shows including Today, ABC Evening News, 20/20, and The View. She passed away in her home in New York at 93 years old.