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Nick B. Williams Jr., former Times editor and reporter, dies at 75

August 8, 2012 |  8:50 am

Nick B. Williams Jr., a veteran Los Angeles Times reporter and editor who was a foreign correspondent in Southeast Asia and the Middle East in the 1980s and '90s, died Wednesday. He was 75.

Williams, who was the son of former Times editor Nick B. Williams Sr., died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease at a nursing home in Gainesville, Texas, according to his daughter Nan.

The younger Williams was born in Santa Monica in 1937 and was raised in Pasadena. He graduated from what is now Claremont McKenna College and worked at the San Diego Union and the Chicago Sun-Times before moving to The Times.

In the 1970s and ‘80s he was an editor on the national and the foreign desks before becoming a foreign correspondent for the paper. Among his assignments were covering the Persian Gulf War and the “People’s Power” revolution in the Philippines.

In 1992 Williams wrote an essay describing some of his experiences in the field. From the anecdotes reflecting on his time in the Middle East:

On my return to Iraq after last year's Gulf War cease-fire and the anti-government rebellion in the south, Shiite Muslim women in black chadors sat huddled outside a prison gate in the southern city of Basra, shrieking lamentations and hoping for word that their husbands and sons were alive inside the high walls. That was the best they could expect -- that their men were imprisoned and not among the thousands of Shiite rebels shot down by Saddam Hussein's helicopter gunships as he re-established his hold on the country. There is still no accounting of the dead.

In Kuneitra, a ghost town at the foot of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, leveled in the 1967 war and again in 1973, Syrian soldiers peered from the rubble of buildings, fingering the triggers of their rifles as my car arrived from Damascus. Except for weeds pushing up through broken concrete walls and birds circling overhead, they were the only sign of life in the town -- a symbol of the wars that have racked the Middle East in the second half of the 20th Century.

After returning to Los Angeles, Williams was editor of the paper’s World Report section and deputy editor of the editorial pages.

Williams’ father, who was editor of The Times from 1958 to 1971, died in 1992. Williams is survived by his wife, Gerri, of Lake Kiowa, Texas; daughters Maggie Sykes of Lake Kiowa; and Nan Williams of Flat Top, Tenn.; two grandsons; and his sisters Sue Williams of Trinidad, Calif., and Ricky Davis of Arcata.
Services are pending.
A complete obituary will follow at latimes.com/obits.


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