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Resident of Castro Valley
Ben Williams, the first black television news reporter in the Bay Area, passed away of cardiac arrest at St. Rose Hospital in Hayward on Monday, December 17, 2012. He was 85. Mr. Williams had appeared on the daily newscasts of KPIX Channel 5 for more than 25 years, covering events that included the Robert Kennedy assassination, the UC Free Speech Movement, the attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford, and the Patty Hearst kidnapping. He had served nine years as the station's East Bay Bureau Chief.
Mr. Williams grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and studied journalism at Lincoln University in Jefferson City. After graduating, he moved to California and settled in the Bay Area where he worked first at two black daily newspapers, the Bay Area Daily Record and the San Francisco Sun-Reporter. In 1962 he was hired by the San Francisco Examiner to become the Hearst-owned newspaper's first black reporter. By 1965, having become a highly regarded and award-winning print journalist, he was recruited by KPIX to become the first black TV reporter in Bay Area television. He continued at the station for more than a quarter of a century, winning an Emmy Award and honors from the National Association of Black Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists, the San Francisco Press Club, and dozens of community organizations. He taught journalism for 11 years at San Francisco State University while working at Channel 5. After retiring, Ben and his wife, Vivian, traveled the world, visiting Africa, China and the Caribbean. He had recently served on the Board of Directors for "The Next Step," an adult literacy program based in West Oakland.
He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Vivian, of Oakland, his son, Ben Williams, Jr. and wife Michelle, and two grandchildren, Olivia and Aleah. He was predeceased by two sons, Gregory Williams and Alan Williams. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, at St. Benedict's Church, 2245 82nd Ave., at Bancroft, in Oakland.
In lieu of flowers the Family asks that donations be made in the name of Ben Williams to The Next Step Learning Center 2222 Curtis Street, Oakland, CA 94607, or the Oakland Boys Club 920 24th st. Oakland Ca. 94607
Holy Angels Funeral Cremation Center, FD1456
Published in Inside Bay Area on Dec. 20, 2012