Janette Williams: 1944-2013

Janette Williams: 1944-2013

Local journalism community left reeling following death of veteran newswoman

By Kevin Uhrich 07/24/2013

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Like many others throughout the Greater Pasadena area, we were saddened to hear Monday that longtime friend and colleague Janette Williams, a reporter and editor with the Pasadena Star-News over the past two decades, had died.

A mother and a grandmother, over the years Janette was also a good friend to many in the Los Angeles journalism community, including this reporter. She and I started at the Star-News at around the same time in the early 1990s, her first signing on with the paper’s former community news publications, and me covering Pasadena City Hall.

Possessed of a melodious voice and an endearing Scottish accent, Janette soon revealed herself as a master journalist and storyteller, one with a tremendous sense of humor and a high level of compassion, understanding and empathy for the people, situations and events she covered.   

These hallmarks of her character were evident in her work over the years. Janette covered like few others the city’s arts, music, historic preservation and social service communities, and she wrote and edited hard news as well.

“Over more than two decades at the Star-News, she covered essentially every beat the paper has, from crime to city halls to high culture,” the newspaper reported in its Wednesday edition. (For more, visit http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/ci_23718660)
News of the 68-year-old Monrovia resident’s death came from her friend and boss, Star-News editor Frank Girardot.

Word has been sent to Janette’s two children, Girardot said. Memorial arrangements were pending. A cause of death was not known Tuesday, according to a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner.

“We don’t know what happened. We just know that Janette isn’t with us anymore,” Girardot said Tuesday. “I’m sure [Janette’s family members] are devastated. How could they not be? My whole newsroom is devastated. I’m sure they are as well.”

Williams is survived by her daughter Fiona Smith, son-in-law Todd Smith, and grandchildren Ailsa and Rowan Smith, of Oakland, and son Andrew Williams and his fiancé Carol Bryce of Boulder, Colo., the Star-News reported.

Former Pasadena Public Information Officer Ann Erdman, who knew Janette for 20 years, expressed shock and sadness after learning of her friend’s passing.

“She was everyone’s favorite reporter at the Pasadena Star-News,” Erdman wrote on her Facebook page. “She was funny and fair and we would dish at lunch from time to time. Rest in peace, my friend.”

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