July 17, 2012 / 9:49 PM / in 5 years

Former Washington Post columnist William Raspberry dies

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - William Raspberry, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former columnist for the Washington Post, died at his home in Washington on Tuesday at the age of 76.

Raspberry, whose column was syndicated and carried by more than 200 newspapers, had prostate cancer, his wife Sondra told the Post.

Raspberry’s columns covered a wide range of topics, often from a moderate perspective. He wrote his column for 39 years, retiring in 2005.

Raspberry won a Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1994, the same year he won a lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Black Journalists.

Born in segregated Okolona, Mississippi in 1935, Raspberry was one of five children in his family. He graduated from Indiana Central College in 1960, and started working for the Post as a teletypist in 1962 after two years in the Army as a public information officer.

He actually started his reporting career at the Indianapolis Recorder, a weekly newspaper with a primarily African-American audience, where he worked during the summer of 1956.

Soon after his career at the Post began, Raspberry started reporting for the newspaper. He covered the Watts riots of 1965 in Los Angeles, winning the Capital Press Club’s Journalist of the Year honor for that work.

By 1966, he had his own column on local issues.

After his retirement, Raspberry founded and led Baby Steps, an organization for low-income parents in his hometown in Mississippi. He also taught journalism at Duke University for over a decade.

Raspberry is survived by his wife, his 106-year-old mother, two daughters, one son, one foster son, one brother and one sister.

Reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti, Editing by Alistair Bell and Todd Eastham

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