Fayetteville loses a special journalist

Lorry Williams, the first woman executive editor of The Fayetteville Observer, died Tuesday after a long struggle with cancer. Her colleagues remember her as a mentor who fought for them as much as she fought to get the news first and to get it right.


About three weeks ago, Lorry Williams told a colleague that she was stepping down as managing editor of CityView news and CityView magazine.

By then, the breast cancer she had fought for two years had spread throughout her body, leaving her so weak that she could barely type using only two fingers.

“You know how much this job means to me,” she told the colleague as she struggled to hold back tears.

Ms. Williams transitioned to hospice care at her mother’s home. She died early Tuesday at the age of 59.

Everyone who ever worked with or for Ms. Williams — during her many years at The Fayetteville Observer, then at CityView — knew exactly how much she valued her responsibilities and mission as a journalist. 

In her newsrooms, she was usually the first one in the door and the last to leave. Early in her career as a reporter, colleagues described her as tenacious and fearless, a woman who was so brave, determined and talented that she was always among those called on to cover a hurricane or other major disaster, or to dig into a difficult investigation to pry out the truth. 

After she became an editor at the Observer in the early 2000s, overseeing coverage of the Cape Fear region, she set high expectations for her reporters and cared deeply about seeing them succeed — whether by reporting the news of the day or producing important, impactful journalism.

“It’s kind of hard to imagine journalism in this town and this community without Lorry,” said longtime Fayetteville Observer columnist Bill Kirby Jr., who now writes for CityView. “Lorry Williams was, and always will be, the consummate news professional and the consummate journalist.”

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