Bill Hillman, the San Francisco news broadcaster who served as national president of AFTRA from 1979 to 1984, died Tuesday of congestive heart failure at Marin General Hospital in Marin County, Calif. He was 76.
A member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists since 1948, he was an architect of and trustee for the 80,000-member union’s Health & Retirement Funds and a longtime AFTRA vice president before being elected president. He served on the national board for more than 30 years. He also held every elected office in the union’s San Francisco Local, including four terms as Local president. In 1984, he received AFTRA’s highest honor, the George Heller Memorial Gold Card.
He was also a charter member and leader of the San Francisco Bay Area Broadcast Legends, a group of veteran broadcasters, and was dedicated to preserving the history of Bay Area broadcasting.
He was born in Rexburg, Idaho, and began his broadcasting career at KIDO, Boise, in 1942. During World War II, he was assigned to the Army Signal Corps Signal Intelligence as a cryptanalyst. Following the war, he returned to California where he was affiliated with radio and television stations in Oakland, Vallejo and San Francisco.
A graduate of UC Berkeley, with a degree in English, he joined the staff of KPIX-TV, San Francisco, in 1953 as an announcer and was a news broadcaster with that station until his retirement in 1992. From 1957 to 1973, he also served as Northern California correspondent for the United States Information Agency, his reports being heard throughout the world on the Voice of America.
He is survived by a daughter, two sons, two brothers and a sister.
No funeral services are planned, but a memorial service will be held Aug. 21 at 11 a.m. in the Golden Gate Room, Fort Mason, San Francisco.
Contributions can be made to the Bill Hillman Television Archive Fund, San Francisco State University, c/o Carole Hayashino 16 Holloway Ave., San Francisco, CA 94132.