by Fred Kuhr
Jim Williams, the co-founder and longtime co-publisher of Baltimore OUTloud, passed away on October 4, 2019. Williams retired from the newspaper this past June due to ill health related to heart and lung issues, according to a report in Baltimore OUTloud. He was 84.
He was not only one of the four original founders of Baltimore OUTloud, but became co-publisher in 2009 after the retirement of founding publisher Mike Chase. He was also a driving force behind the decision to purchase Baltimore Gay Paper.
According to current Baltimore OUTloud publisher Jim Becker, Williams’ background in LGBT nonprofits made him “a natural fit” as a founder of the newspaper.
“He had great insight into the needs of the community that, combined with a strong business sense, made him invaluable to the newspaper,” Becker said, in the pages of Baltimore OUTloud. “Until his health began to take its toll, Jim had boundless energy and a love of life, perhaps the result of growing up in New Orleans. He had a great sense of humor, loved a good party, and could light up a room. I will miss him as a tremendous partner in publishing Baltimore OUTloud and as a dear friend.”
Publisher emeritus Mike Chase added, “I met Jim shortly after he came to Baltimore and was immediately struck by his commitment to helping those with HIV/AIDS. He embraced Baltimore’s Q-plus community while making the city his home. It was that community spirit that led us to ask him to join in the founding of Baltimore OUTloud. Jim was a patron of local artists and all things of beauty. He faced life’s challenges with his characteristic good humor and a generous nature. I have been proud to call Jim a friend, and know he will be missed by many.”
Williams was originally an eight-grade English teacher, but then went on to work for the National Education Association (NEA), starting in the 1960s, particularly around issues of integration. After retiring from the NEA in the ‘80s, he worked for several Washington, D.C., nonprofits, including Food and Friends. He was then hired as executive director of Movable Feast. After retiring from Movable Feast, he became executive director of AIDS Interfaith Residential Services (AIRS), another AIDS service organization.
While working for Movable Feast, he met Chase, who was then editor of Gay Life newspaper. When Chase’s spouse Lee Mooney, Joe Berg, and Jim Becker decided to launch Baltimore OUTloud, Williams was tapped to join the effort.
Williams is survived by a brother, son, and daughter. A memorial service will be held on December 7, 2019, at Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church in Baltimore.
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