Credit: CNN

News of Gwen Ifill’s death was especially heartbreaking for CNN’s Don Lemon. The anchor teared up while honoring the newswoman, who died early Monday following several months of cancer treatment, PBS confirmed.

“Sadly we have lost her voice,” Lemon said of Ifill, the longtime co-anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour. “Gwen was one the most talented journalists of our time. Period. Her accomplishments are literally too many to mention.”

Lemon soon got emotional as he recalled a special memory. “I first met Gwen at a National Association of Black Journalists Convention in the mid ’90s when I was trying to become an on-air reporter,” he explained. “The woman who I had watched, admired, and loved from afar agreed to critique my first demo tape. I hung onto her every word. Now I have a few words for her.”

Tears welling in his eyes, Lemon looked into the camera as if he was speaking to Ifill. “Gwen, you were a black woman who thrived in this brutal business dominated by mostly men. You transcended race and gender. You were simply brilliant and powerful, a quiet storm, professional, understated, humble,” said Lemon, his voice shaking. “I won’t give your age because I was taught to never tell or ask a lady’s age. And I won’t say goodbye because goodbyes are so hard.”

Bringing his hand to his face and struggling to keep his composure, Lemon ended the powerful moment with this farewell: “But I will say, so long, and thank you.”

Watch the video below, and then see how celebrities paid tribute to the veteran journalist.