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Fox4 investigator Becky Oliver explains reasons for retiring

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It wasn’t burnout and “No, I’m not being forced out,” says longtime Fox4 investigator Becky Oliver.

Instead take her at her word. As unclebarky.com first reported earlier Wednesday, she in fact is retiring on June 29th after joining the station on March 11, 1991.

“You get to do that at age 55 at Fox,” Oliver says in a telephone interview while on vacation. “You get a very generous pension, retirement and medical package . . . The hardest thing for me has been juggling motherhood with a full-time job.”

Few know, because she’s chosen not to mention it in her Fox4 bio, that Oliver (who’s 55-and-a-half) is the married mother of six children. Her three boys and three girls now range in age from 16 to 28 years old. Three are out of college, one is in college, one is heading to college this fall and her youngest daughter, 16, remains at home.

“Twice I had really serious threats against my kids,” Oliver says. “I won’t elaborate but that’s when I got really worried . . . There have been a lot of bad apples along the way, a lot of kind of scary people” during her 24-year career as Fox4’s signature gumshoe. She’s therefore been extra protective of her children, who were taught to be “very fearful” of strangers and the possible perils associated with her TV visibility and the unsavory people she encountered, Oliver says.

Oliver, who’s husband, Gerald, is an attorney, notes they’ve been “very active in real estate” for the last decade. So it’s a “very logical jump for me right now” to get a full-time realtor license, which she expects to have by August.

“I will not slow down,” she says. “I go 100 miles an hour, 24/7.”

When her youngest daughter asked her if she’d miss television sleuthing, Oliver says she replied, “You know what I get to do? I get to be the boss of me.”

She also plans to continue working with the Plano-based Orphan Outreach organization after recently making a mission trip to Guatemala. “I have a feeling I’ll have my fingers in a lot of things, and that’s very exciting to me.”

Oliver says she filed “intent to retire” papers with Fox4 a year ago and agreed to finish out her current contract with the station before leaving. She subsequently declined a new two-year contract offer.

Producer Donna Ressl, who worked with Oliver in Fox4’s investigative unit for the past 14 years, retired from that job last week. Ressl agreed to “hang on” until Oliver reached retirement age “so that we could go out at the same time.”

When she joined Fox4 in 1991, “people used to criticize me for doing only three stories a year” during the ratings “sweeps” months of November, February and May. ”And it’s true that that’s all I did,” Oliver says.

Her reports generally would be on a single topic and run for five consecutive nights. But week-long sweeps series since have been phased out by local TV stations. In the past year’s time, Oliver says she’s done 33 stories. “We had a lot more time back in the olden days, a lot more time to work on things.”

Fox4 aired a half-hour special on her career last Friday. Oliver has a sharp-edged, semi-raspy voice and -- in her earlier days -- had a trademark verbally brawling way of tracking down and confronting alleged wrongdoers. While going over some of those earlier tapes for the special, Oliver says she came away thinking, “Wow, I was just downright mean. I guess I’ve really mellowed over the years. I guess it just comes with getting older.”

She’s won 20 local Emmys among other awards for her investigative work. Oliver says her most gratifying effort was a 2013 investigation of guard rail safety that resulted in a Texas jury determining that a Dallas-based company had defrauded the federal government.

“The thing I will miss the most is having the ability to help people,” she says. “I have people every single day who call up and say ‘Thank you.’ It’s a very powerful thing.”

Fox4 management must now decide whether to hire another full-time investigative team or try a different tack. Oliver says she has “no idea” what their plans are. “I think there are two rules of thumb. There are some managers who think every reporter in the news room should be an investigative reporter at times. And others who think there should be a self-standing unit.”

It’s not her problem. And after 24 years at Fox4 and 33 years in the TV news business, Oliver says she’s eager to throw herself into other pursuits.

“I can honestly say I loved every minute of it,” she says. “And I’m very grateful to Fox. It’s been an honor and a privilege.”

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