KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For decades, he was Kansas City’s most prominent meteorologist, guiding countless families through all types of weather events, with an unwavering goal to protect them. Later this year, KSHB 41 Chief Meteorologist Gary Lezak plans to retire.
He leaves this chapter of his life with incredible stories, memories and unique moments that have defined his incredible career.
“Kansas City, you welcomed me to this city 30 years ago, and it has been the opportunity of a lifetime,” chief meteorologist Gary Lezak said in a station statement Tuesday. “I’ve been considering this choice for some time now, and I don’t take this decision lightly. I know there are so many viewers in Kansas City and beyond that I’ve had a friendship and a relationship over the years. It was an honor to share the weather forecast in a fun and educational way. I sincerely hope it had a positive impact on their lives.”
Gary’s fascination with the weather began as a hobby when he was 5 years old. He would look forward to those rainy days, but also keep his eyes on the sky. After high school in 1980, Gary attended the University of Oklahoma where his hobby turned into a career. In 1985, he earned his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology and began what would become a legendary career in broadcasting.
Gary didn’t have to go far for his first big job as an on-air weatherman. In 1986, he became a morning weatherman at KWTV-TV in Oklahoma City. In 1992 Gary moved to Kansas City, where he has now been for nearly 30 years. Gary began to develop his deep-rooted relationship with the Kansas City community through live shots and events throughout the region, celebrating unique places and helping people prepare for their days.
In 1999, Gary became chief meteorologist at KSHB 41. He and his weather team established themselves as the most accurate weather forecaster in Kansas City, winning multiple WeatheRate awards for being the most accurate. Gary has been on the air for some of the biggest weather events in Kansas City history, including the May 4, 2003 tornado and the May 28, 2019 tornado. In 2021, Gary marked the 10th anniversary of the deadly tornado of Joplin by traveling to the city to tell stories about lessons learned that will make people’s lives safer in the Midwest.
“Gary’s impact on this region is unparalleled,” KSHB/KMCI Vice President and General Manager Kathleen Choal said in the release. “His dedication to telling a weather story in his own way, while serving our community through hundreds of projects, fundraisers and over a thousand school visits, is a testament to his dedication to serving the people of Kansas. City at the highest level. We are incredibly grateful for everything Gary has done to make this area a better place.”
An animal lover, Gary has dedicated time and support to the causes he is most passionate about. Gary was the Wayside Waifs Fur Ball’s emcee for 18 years and helped the organization raise over $25 million over nearly two decades. Additionally, Gary has hosted 20 pet telethons, raising over $2 million. He also hosted the Dog-N-Jog to benefit the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City for 25 years. Gary has been known to share airtime with his well-known dogs Sunny and Rainbow
By far the biggest challenge in Gary’s life was when he was diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer called extra-skeletal osteogenic sarcoma in 1999. Doctors found him to be very aggressive and recommended that Gary undergo intensive chemotherapy to ensure that the cancer was removed from his body. his body. Two surgeries to remove the cancer were performed before chemotherapy treatments could begin. Gary has now been cancer free since 2000 and celebrates every day! He shares his cancer experience and his passion for the weather at the annual Cancer Action Volunteer Awards Banquet, which he has hosted for 20 years.
“For decades, Gary has been a leader for our team, as well as being an incredible ambassador for this region,” KSHB/KMCI News Director Matthew Wagoner said in the statement. “Gary has made it his mission to keep families safe and prepared, while always giving back. While Gary will be missed on the air every day, we know he will continue to pursue his love of weather and forecasting.”
Gary’s last day will be December 1, 2022. Over the next few months, KSHB 41 will feature many memorable moments from his Kansas City career. Once Gary leaves the anchor office, he plans to pursue his passion for long-range weather forecasting through his entrepreneurial endeavors that could save lives during severe weather.
“It’s time to move on to my next journey in this amazing life that we all have. Let’s all enjoy this moment, and we can look forward to what lies ahead,” Lezak said.