Vernon A. Williams

Vernon Williams, one of Gary's jewels

Contributed By: The 411 News

A newspaper journalist whose career spanned broadcast media and the arts

The news scoop of his life, Vernon Williams told a meeting of the Gary Chamber of Commerce in February, came during high school. His neighbor, one of the Jackson boys told him, “Come on over. We just got signed to Motown.” He went and asked Joe Jackson for an interview. He was still in high school. That was 1968.

Even before then, the precocious teenager had convinced the editors of the local weekly newspaper they needed a ‘teen scene’ reporter. They gave him the job.

Williams was a people person and loved telling their stories.

His family announced his death on Sunday, May 12. Williams was 73.

Williams was the first African American news reporter at the Gary Post-Tribune where he also became a columnist and a member of the editorial board. He is former Managing Editor for Gary Info Newspaper and a columnist for the Chicago & Gary Crusader Newspapers.

Vernon was Station Manager of WGVE FM in Gary. He created and served as morning drive air personality hosting “The Breakfast Club” on WLTH AM in Gary. He was News Director and evening anchor for CableVision News in Gary and CEO of Paragon Advertising.

Journalism opened more doors for Vernon. He wrote and produced his first play in 1980. From that, his passion for live theatre developed and he founded the William Marshall Players in Gary.

As a playwright, Williams stuck to what he knew – families, community life and empowerment, and social justice.

After relocating to Indianapolis in 2001, managerial roles came to Williams.

He served as Marketing Supervisor for the Indianapolis Public Schools’ Career and Technology Center for 11 years before becoming Vice President of Communications for Indiana Black Expo, Inc (IBE).

He left IBE to become Assistant to the Chancellor for Communication at IUPUI under Dr. Charles R. Bantz. He was later appointed to Communication and Community Engagement Strategist for the IUPUI Office of Community Engagement.

Indianapolis allowed him to continue his love for theatre, writing and producing plays for another 2 decades. Williams often brought his productions to Gary.

Vernon was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi in 1951, the youngest of father Willie Marion, Sr. and mother Dillie C. Williams’ 10 children.

Williams and his wife, Joyce would have celebrated 50 years of marriage in October. They have one daughter, Bridget Harris, and one grandson, Jace Vernon Harris.

Services for Williams will be held on Friday, May 24 at Kingdom Apostolic Ministries; viewing from 10am – 12 noon; and the funeral at 12 noon.

In lieu of flowers, his family asks that donations are made in Vernon Williams’ name to the Indiana University Foundation in care of the Africana Repertory Theatre of IU Indianapolis (A.R.T.I.) in the Indiana University Indianapolis School of Liberal Arts, P.O. Box 6460, Indianapolis, IN, 46206-6460.

For online contributions, visit https://give.myiu.org/iupui/I320015132.html

Story Posted:05/17/2024

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