Longtime Waycross newspaper publisher found dead in office

Waycross Journal-Herald shut down in September

WAYCROSS, Ga. – For more than 100 years, the Waycross Journal-Herald, which covered Ware County, was owned and operated by the Williams family.

That changed when the paper shut down at the end of last month with plans of becoming a weekly edition.

On Wednesday, Roger Williams, the former publisher of the paper, was found dead inside his office at the paper's headquarters. According to the Waycross Police Department, Williams died of an apparent suicide. He was 71.

For more than a century, the Williams family was the fiber of the greater Waycross community. The Journal-Herald began when Price Williams and Volney Williams purchased the paper in 1904.

"It was him," Rick Head, Waycross Journal-Herald publisher and owner told News4Jax on Thursday. "You associated Roger Williams with the Waycross Journal-Herald. It went hand in hand." ​​​​​​

Shortly after the paper ceased daily operations, it was announced that Head, long-time sports editor of the former paper, would relaunch the paper as a weekly.

"I made a promise when we struck a deal that I would carry, uphold the Williams family name," Head said.

Head said the paper had been struggling in recent years. 

"Right now, we are part of that history. We are hanging onto history. It's the fight every paper across the world is having to fight," Head said. 

That fight became too much for "South Georgia's Greatest Newspaper."

"Technology today, the younger generation wants everything at their fingertips," Head said.

Head recalled his last conversation with Williams, moments before he died. 

"I told him I was going to make him proud," Head said. "He was telling me he was proud. That meant the world to me. That was the last thing he told me before I walked out the doors yesterday morning, was that he was proud of me, I was doing a great job, keep up the great work. We shook hands, and I left."

On Sept. 30, the printing press printed its last edition of the Waycross Journal-Herald.

Under its new weekly edition, the Waycross Journal-Herald has published three papers to date. Head hopes it will become a biweekly edition soon.

A memorial service for Williams is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at Music Funeral Home in Waycross.

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