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William A. Hilliard, former editor of The Oregonian, 89

Hilliard, here in 1994, was former editor of

Hilliard, here in 1994, was former editor of The Oregonian and a national pioneer who paved the way for minorities in journalism. Credit: AP / Ross William Hamilton

PORTLAND, Ore. — William A. Hilliard, who became the first black reporter at The Oregonian newspaper and later its editor in a pioneering 42-year career, has died at age 89.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that Hilliard died Monday. He was one of the first African-American newsroom leaders at a major U.S. newspaper.

He was once denied a paper-route at The Oregonian because managers said whites did not want blacks delivering their paper. But after serving in the Navy and graduating from college, he was hired as a copy boy at age 25. He made his way up from there, becoming executive editor in 1982.

In 1993 he served as president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the first African-American to hold the post. He retired in 1994.

— AP

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