Carrie Rengers

Kansas loses longtime journalist and newsroom character Bill Wilson and his sharp wit

File photo

Newsrooms are known for the quirky people who inhabit them, and Kansas journalism has lost one of its more original personalities.

Bill Wilson, who worked at several Wichita-area publications through the years, died Wednesday after a long battle with cancer.

“He was just one of those newsroom characters who made working in the newsroom a lot of fun,” says Tom Shine, KMUW director of news and public affairs, who had been Wilson’s editor when the two worked at The Wichita Eagle.

“Bill was a complicated mix of unrelenting investigative reporter, obsessive baseball fan, dedicated son and dog owner, and loyal friend,” his longtime friend Tammy Allen wrote in an e-mail.

“He held strong opinions, and wasn’t shy about sharing them – usually about an injustice or inequity that he saw,” wrote Allen, who is chief marketing officer for Foulston Siefkin.

“He was crotchety and argumentative one minute, and showing you pictures of the funny thing his dog did last night the next.”

In newsrooms filled with loud, boisterous voices, Wilson’s often rose above the others, whether cracking a smart-aleck response to news or skewering a politician — often ones he just got off the phone with. He didn’t spare his colleagues or even himself from his biting remarks.

Wilson was “very funny and very sharp with his wit,” Shine says.

Most recently, Wilson had been managing editor of the Wichita Business Journal. He also had newspaper jobs in Newton and Hutchinson through the years.

“He knew what the story was, knew how to get it and went out and got it,” Shine says.

“It’s a loss for south-central Kansas.”

Carrie Rengers has been a reporter for almost three decades, including 16 years at The Wichita Eagle. Her Have You Heard? column of business scoops runs five days a week in The Eagle. If you have a tip, please e-mail or tweet her or call 316-268-6340.