TV reporter David Garcia dies at 63

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PALM DESERT, Calif. -- David Garcia, a pioneering Hispanic television journalist who became known as "Earthman" for his environmental reporting, has died. He was 63.

Garcia, who lived in Palm Desert, died of liver failure Tuesday at Eisenhower Medical Center.

"He was a man of enormous energy and he had that great, booming voice," friend and former colleague Jess Marlow said. "He was great fun to work with."

Born in Temple, Texas, Garcia attended Baylor University and after college was hired by a radio station in his hometown. He moved on to the ABC television and radio affiliate in Dallas, to New York for the ABC radio network and then into ABC television.

At that time in the 1970s, Garcia was one of only a handful of Hispanics who were network television correspondents. He covered the White House, including the Watergate scandal and the administrations of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

He later was the network's bureau chief for Latin America, reporting on the Sandinista takeover in Nicaragua.

In the 1980s and 1990s, he worked for various Southern California television stations, including KCBS-TV, KNBC-TV and KTTV-TV, where he was a full-time environmental reporter.

He got the nickname while working for KNBC-TV when a weatherman introduced an upcoming environmental story by joking that "Earthman" was on the way.

"I ended up getting mail from kids, and it would have no address on it, just the word 'Earthman,"' Garcia said in a 2002 article in the Business Press/California.

"He carved out a niche before people really even paid attention to the environment," KNBC-TV anchor Colleen Williams said. "There will always only be one Earthman. He started it for everyone, and he was really passionate about it."

During his career, Garcia was nominated for 30 local Emmy Awards and received 14.

After moving to the desert, Garcia appeared on local television stations and was involved with public television. He had a TV series, "Go West with David Garcia," that ran for four years on local cable and public television channels.

Garcia is survived by his wife, Susie; his mother, Evangeline Garcia; a brother, Ted; and his sisters, Rachel Kidd, Suzanna Garcia and Cindy Garcia, all of Temple, Texas.
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