Longtime Atlanta journalist Dick Williams has died.
Williams, 77, died Thursday from congestive heart failure, according to the AJC. He was the retired editor and publisher of the Dunwoody Crier newspaper and former host of “The Georgia Gang” talk show on FOX 5.
Williams had bought the Dunwoody Crier in 1996 and is credited with helping with the creation of the City of Dunwoody. And his wife, the late Rebecca Chase Williams, was considered the “founding mother” of Brookhaven where she served as a mayor and city council member.
Williams had sold the Crier in 2019 to Appen Media Group.
Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch said she knew Williams for more than 20 years.
“While he had a long list of impressive journalistic accomplishments, I hope he will be remembered most for his work in local journalism,” Deutsch said in a statement Friday morning. “As the host of ‘The Georgia Gang’ and publisher of the Dunwoody Crier, he was the epitome of a hometown journalist. Through his coverage in the Crier, Dick was instrumental in the successful creation of the City of Dunwoody. He built the Crier into a real community newspaper, and his impact is still felt today.”
Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst said Williams was a “tireless watchdog” who held government accountable.
“His dedication to the ideals of honesty, integrity and service were the foundation upon his life’s work,” Ernst said in a statement to Reporter Newspapers. “In fact, Dick and Rebecca’s expectation that governments could and should do a better job was a catalyst in the creation of Brookhaven itself. Dick’s legacy are those ideals in which this City was founded upon. I will personally miss our random and irreverent conversations about world events, news of the weird, or most often, the latest on the Atlanta Hawks. My prayers remain with his beloved family during this very difficult time.”
Dunwoody City Councilmember John Heneghan said in a blog post that Williams positively impacted the lives of many citizens.
“He supported community events, influenced politics and helped found a city that improved the quality of life for all involved,” Heneghan said. “He was a powerful voice in Atlanta politics and business where many wanted to whisper into his ear in order for him to turn the tide of public persuasion.”
Heneghan said that outside of work, Williams adored his wife and daughters. He sang in the choir at All Saints Catholic Church and was a high school basketball referee for many years.
Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr said on Twitter that Williams was a “giant in Atlanta media” and a “founding father of Dunwoody.”
Lori Geary, political reporter and current anchor of “The Georgia Gang,” shared on Facebook her memories of Williams.
“He graciously passed the baton of his beloved ‘Georgia Gang’ to me, and boy were they big shoes to fill,” Geary said. “Dick had a great sense of humor, was a devoted family man to his late wife, Rebecca, and their two daughters and always a consummate professional. Dunwoody wouldn’t be what it is today without Dick Williams.”
FOX 5 investigative reporter Dale Russell said on Twitter that his heart was breaking over the news. “He was an iconic newsman in Atlanta who touched so many lives.”
And Reporter Newspapers columnist and former Crier writer Carol Niemi called Williams one of the last old-time journalists.
“He made me a better writer and taught me everything I needed to know about being a journalist,” Niemi said. “He was smart, generous with praise, principled, courageous, devout in his Catholic faith and very funny. He knew everybody, including many people in high places, but never took himself too seriously … I was honored to have been in his circle. I carry his lessons with me every day of my life.”