POSTED: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - 7:53pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 - 9:31am
EL PASO — Condolences kept flowing in for former city councilman and longtime KTSM weatherman Ted Bender. He passed away in a hospital Monday morning. His family said he died from complications from hip surgery.
Bender was 87 years old.
Ted Bender graced El Paso viewers with his presence on KTSM every night for 41 years.
He moved to El Paso and started working for KTSM radio in 1949.
"I think he was very proud of being a pioneer in the new media of television," said daughter Marjorie Bender.
Bender then became the weatherman for KTSM TV when it first aired in 1953.
"He would often say when he was the weatherman that he had the best job in the world. All he had to say was, "Hot and dry. You're right 85 percent of the time and that other 15 percent even god couldn't predict," said Marjorie Bender.
For most of his career, Bender used a marker to draw his forecast. His family said he loved working in TV.
"I know that he really enjoyed being on television. He enjoyed his job immensely. He really liked all the people he worked with there at KTSM," said Marjorie Bender.
And all the people at KTSM liked working with him, including Dave Garcia who worked with Bender for six years.
"Ted pretty much felt that the people of El Paso... the people in his community needed to know what was important and to Ted, weather was always important," said Garcia.
Garcia said it was all of Bender's daily routines that made him a unique person.
"Anybody who works a crossword puzzle to a clock, anybody who wears two watches to make sure the time is right, anybody who won't wear a long tie because it might get caught in something, anybody who has the same walk every day, is a very intense guy," said Garcia.
Garcia was a part of Ted's last show when he retired in 1990 and he said Bender seemed like he didn't want to go.
But even intro retirement, Ted visited the station often.
He stopped by in 2005, and Meteorologist Chuck DeBroder put him on the green screen on his 80th birthday.
"I said, ‘Well Ted it's your birthday. I'm going to put you on the air. So at the 5 o'clock newscast, I mic’ed Ted up… he walked in front of the weather wall and he was walking a little slow at the time, but when he got in front of the weather wall, he just livened up and started doing weather," said DeBroder.
Others said he was a joy to be around.
"He was always kidding around and always full of laughs," said KTSM Employee Lulu Quintana. "He would take his walks and check every phone booth for coins which, by the way, he actually did make money out of that."
During his four decades predicting the weather, Bender had many accomplishments outside of television news.
He was on the El Paso City Council from 1957 to 1963, during which he voted to end segregation in El Paso.
"He walked into the meeting to a standing ovation and the ordinance passed and El Paso was desegregated two years before Martin Luther King gave the famous, 'I've got a Dream' speech," said Marjorie Bender.
Bender will be remembered for his hard work and dedication.
"He often said things like, 'Whether you like me or not, you're watching me and that's always good.'"
Bender's daughter said he enjoyed being a sportscaster, calling play by play of basketball games for Texas Western College and travelling with Don Haskins.
Bender was active in the community. He brought the Cress Collection to the El Paso Museum of Art and worked with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
His memorial service will be at the 2nd Baptist Church, 401 S. Virginia, on Tuesday, January 15 at 11 a.m. The service is open to the public.