Bill Wallace, a campus alumnus and former staff writer for The Daily Californian, died of liver cancer Saturday at the age of 69 in Berkeley.
Wallace was known for his investigative reporting at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he worked for more than 25 years. His loved ones remember him for his passion, wit and determination.
Susan Sward, Wallace’s close friend and colleague from the San Francisco Chronicle, praised Wallace for always striving to expose injustices.
“He wanted to write in defense of the powerless and that gave him the drive to do the excellent journalism he did over the years,” Sward said.
Wallace was born Dec. 3, 1947. He attended El Dorado High School, where he met his wife, Margot Wallace. Margot Wallace said they were married for 49 years, until his death.
During the Vietnam War, Bill Wallace was stationed in Japan. He earned college credits from the Defense Language Institute, where he learned to speak Russian. After his time in the navy, he attended UC Berkeley and graduated with his wife in 1973 with a political science degree.
Wallace started reporting for the Daily Cal after he graduated from UC Berkeley, according to his wife. He went on to write for the San Francisco Bay Guardian and the Berkeley Barb. At the San Francisco Chronicle, he was a beat reporter covering police misconduct.
“He had a strong commitment of getting behind the facts and he approached each story with an incredible amount of depth and sympathy,” said Susan Rubenstein, an attorney who worked with Wallace when he worked for the San Francisco Chronicle. “He was great. His kind is rarely seen among reporters.”
As a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, Wallace covered notable topics, including national crime rate trends and the 1991 Oakland hills fire.
“It’s a real loss,” Rubenstein said. “He felt very strongly about the first amendment and the public’s right to know what is going on … (He was) an extraordinary journalist, a real lovely man.”
After he retired, he started teaching journalism at California State University, East Bay, but he left when the school made budget cuts. He then pursued his dream of being a pulp fiction writer and published eight crime fiction novels.
Wallace documented his journey against cancer on his Facebook profile. Margot Wallace said he was diagnosed more than a year ago.
She added that she was going to miss his sense of humor and perspective on the world the most.
“I admired most about him his work ethic when he was reporting — he wrote like crazy,” Margot Wallace said. “He would want to be remembered as someone who wanted to make a difference even when it was shoveling shit against the tide.”
Contact Jessíca Jiménez at [email protected].