This blog is a place for memories of Jerry Gillam, who died Saturday April 11, 2009. Please email your memories to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will post. Send photos too. You can also comment directly on the posts. Thanks!
Jerry in Notre Dame cap, Kings Royals throwback jersey, next to poster of Monarch's Ticha--go teams!
JERRY'S MEMORIAL SERVICE
The memorial service for Jerry Gillam will be Friday April 24 at 11 am at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 2620 Capitol Ave., Sacramento. Parking is available in the garage on 27th Street between N and Capitol Avenue.
Associated Press obituary by Steve Lawrence
Longtime LA Times Capitol reporter dies at 77 By STEVE LAWRENCE Associated Press Writer
Published: Monday, Apr. 13, 2009 - 3:28 pm
SACRAMENTO -- Jerry Gillam, who covered California government and politics for the Los Angeles Times and other publications for 40 years, has died at age 77.
Gillam's wife, June, said he died in his sleep Saturday. She did not know the cause. He was born and raised in Glendale and attended Glendale Community College before joining the Air Force during the Korean War.
His journalism career began while he was still in high school, covering school sporting events as a stringer for his hometown newspaper. He later became a full-time sports reporter for the paper and, after returning from the Air Force, began to cover local government.
"They didn't have any sports jobs open," June Gillam said Monday. "He had to take a political reporting job, covering city hall."
Gillam moved to Sacramento in 1960 to cover state government for Copley News Service. He joined the Times' Sacramento bureau in 1961, a job he held for 34 years. After leaving the Times in 1995, he worked as the Sacramento correspondent for The Kiplinger Letter, a business publication, for five years.
For many years, Gillam was considered the dean of the Capitol press corps.
Besides writing stories about state government and politics, Gillam covered the trial of serial killer Dorothea Puente and the attempt by Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme to assassinate President Gerald Ford.
He returned to school while working for the Times and earned a bachelor's degree from Sacramento State University in 1977.
Gillam had diabetes, which led to an infection that forced doctors to amputate his left leg in 2006. He remained upbeat despite his declining health, his wife said.
His death triggered a flood of praise from former colleagues.
"All the good things that everybody said are absolutely true," said Bob Fairbanks, a former Times reporter who described Gillam as a very warm man with a "big laugh."
"He was always inquisitive," Fairbanks said. "He was good at getting a story but was never mean. ... He was good to people. People in the Capitol trusted him, which was why he was such a good reporter."
Los Angeles Times Obituary for Jerry Gillam
Jerry Gillam dies at 77;
former Sacramento reporter for L.A. Times By Jon Thurber
April 16, 2009
Jerry Gillam, a longtime state government reporter primarily for the Los Angeles Times, died in his sleep Saturday at his home in Sacramento. He was 77.
Gillam, a diabetic whose left leg was amputated in 2006 and who was recently diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, was taking a nap and was found unresponsive by his wife, June, who called 911. Paramedics were unable to revive him.
With more than 35 years in the state Capitol press corps, Gillam started covering government for the Copley News Service in 1960. A year later, he was hired by Bob Blanchard, then the Times' Sacramento bureau chief, to join the paper's expanding presence there. Gillam stayed with the paper until his retirement in 1995.
For much of his time in Sacramento, Gillam covered the Assembly and saw the Legislature become a full-time body with the passage of Proposition 1-A in 1966.
"No reporter understood the legislators or knew what they were doing better than Jerry," said Times columnist George Skelton, who was a colleague of Gillam's for years.
"He was up on everything, and there was little he couldn't find out. That's basically because they liked and trusted him."
Veterans of the press corps remembered Gillam as genial and very funny.
Bob Schmidt, a retired reporter for the Long Beach Press Telegram, recalled a story that Gillam liked to tell about former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.
"Jerry caught him saying something that was about 180 degrees from what he had said six months earlier," Schmidt told The Times. "So Jerry went back through his clips and found the article and asked Brown about the flip-flop. Brown's response: 'It's what I said last that counts.' "
Gillam was born Feb. 24, 1932, in Glendale and served in the Air Force during the Korean War. After his discharge, he returned to the Glendale News Press, where he had been a sports reporter, but his position was unavailable, so he became a political reporter.
While working for The Times, he earned his journalism degree from Cal State Sacramento in 1977.
In addition to his wife, Gillam is survived by three children, Mark Gillam of Fair Oaks, Calif., Cindy Sullivan of Arcata, Calif., and Karen Pettit of Martinez, Calif.; three step-children, Julie Davies of Auburn, Calif., Karen Freeman of Wallasey, England, and Mike Kimmel of Roseville, Calif.; seven grandchildren; a brother, Rich Gillam of La Crescenta, and his 99-year-old mother, Dorothy Gillam of Glendale.
A memorial service is scheduled for April 24 at 11 a.m. at Trinity Cathedral, 2620 Capitol Ave., Sacramento.