‘He made everyone feel like family:’ WSLS mourns the loss of colleague and friend John ‘Smack’ Cermack

ROANOKE, Va. – It’s been a hard day for us here at WSLS 10.

Our friend and news family member John Cermack unexpectedly passed away on Thursday night.

“Smack” as we liked to call him, was with our company Graham Media Group for 18 years. He joined WSLS as a Maintenance Engineer on January 3, 2022, and was welcomed on his first day with a snowstorm and shoveling snow – and at that moment, we already knew he was the guy we could count on. Someone that was dependable and always ready to lend a helping hand.

John Cermack (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Though you never saw him on camera, Smack kept WSLS 10 running. As soon as he started working here, our product started to improve.

His work made a noticeable difference among all the staff. He instantly became the “fix-it” guy.

He could do it all. And ... he did. And he did more than was asked of him. If he could go above and beyond, he made sure whatever we needed was done, and that it was done right.

“He prided himself on working hard and executing his work perfectly. He could always be counted on,” Rachel Lucas, 10 News Anchor said.

“All of us that knew him knew he had a huge heart and was always ready to jump in and lend a hand, no matter what the project or task,” Suzanne Chappell, Business Manager at WSLS said.

Smack worked hard, and he never lost his contagious smile and infectious, loving personality in the process.

“Whether it was his boisterous laugh, his funny jokes, or his charming personality … he was the type of person who could just walk into a crowded room and make everyone smile,” Rachel said.

He was the type of person that when you met him ... you just knew that he was someone you could count on.

“I immediately recognized that Smack is one of those guys that within a minute of talking to him, you knew he was a best friend,” Ricky Williams, Director of Technology at WSLS said. “He was always willing to help out in any way he could whether at work or personally.”

His family was truly everything to him. Lucky for us, his work family mattered just as much.

“Smack was a wonderful human. He was the type of person you just couldn’t help but to love,” Rachel said. “He had an enormous heart, and those he loved, were loved deeply. His friends quickly became family, and his family was everything.”

“He took the time to really get to know his co-workers and made everyone feel like family. He will be missed deeply,” Suzanne said.

John Cermack (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

Before coming to Virginia, Smack worked at WJXT in Jacksonville, Florida as a camera operator & floor director. His former co-workers are also heartbroken.

“Smack built us all up. He was our hype man. Such a genuine guy dearly missed,” News4JAX anchor Vic Micolucci said.

“Whether it was his raspy voice, jokes, or contagious laughter, Smack was one of a kind as a floor director and as a man. You will be missed,” News4JAX anchor Jenese Harris said.

Vic, John and Mary (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

His brother, Tom, and his sister, Barbara, shared the following statement with WJXT:

His family is arranging a memorial service in Jacksonville. The date has not yet been announced.

Smack was a dear friend to many and will be deeply missed.

“Our thoughts and prayers are extended to the Cermack family. He will truly be missed,” Ricky said.

“The world lost a great man, but heaven gained an amazing soul,” Rachel said.

John Cermack, former WJXT studio director (Copyright 2023 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

About the Authors:

Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.

Watch Rachel weekdays during 10 News at 5:30, 6 and 7 p.m.