THE LIFE OF AN AWARD-WINNING COLUMNIST, REPORTER, AUTHOR
Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I honor the life of an award-winning columnist, reporter and author. My friend, Bill Fiset, lived a long, distinguished life of 73 years, serving his country in World War II. In addition to his honorable career, he was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather.
Bill Fiset was born March 15, 1921 in Seattle, WA and attended Queen Anne High School and the University of Washington, where he was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity and a member of the golf team. At 21, he was a reporter and wrote a column called "Strolling Around the Town" for the Seattle Times.
At 22, Fiset saw foreign service in Africa as an ambulance driver in the American Field Service, an organization giving medical aid to the Allies before the U.S. entered the war. He resigned the Field Service in Egypt in April 1942, and enlisted with the Royal Armored Service Corps. As a second lieutenant in the British 8th Army in North Africa, he served as a machine gunner on an armored lorry defending convoys from Italian bombers between Tobruk and Suez. Fiset also filed field reports as a war correspondent.
Then America entered WWII. With refugees flooding African transports, Fiset luckily used his recent gunnery experience to sign on with an American freighter as a member of the gun crew, reaching the U.S. 3 months later.
In October, 1942, he joined the Navy. He did his preflight training at St. Mary's College in Moraga, CA, and served as a blimp pilot in Airship Squadron 32 on a coastal submarine patrol stationed out of Moffet Field, California.
After the war, Fiset worked as a reporter for the Oakland Post Enquirer from 1946 to 1950 and joined the San Francisco Call Bulletin as a staff reporter from 1950 to 1952.
Fiset then wrote for the Oakland Tribune from March 1952 to 1955 as a general assignment reporter covering such infamous murder and kidnap trials as Burton Abbott, Carl Chessman; and Barbara Graham, Jack Santo and Emmett Perkins of the so-called Mountain Murder Mob. He also witnessed and reported on their executions at San Quentin Prison.
In 1956 he wrote the Tribune's first television column where he became internationally syndicated and was invited to do walk-on acting parts in "Route 66" and "Tales of Wells Fargo." He began a general column for the Tribune in 1962. That same year, he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and won many awards for his writing. His award-winning public service booklets "This Is Sherry" and "Want To Be Smart," written by Fiset and illustrated by artist Ray Marta were discreetly designed to warn children and parents about the dangers of kidnapping and child sex offenders. Over a million copies were distributed free worldwide and locally by the Tribune, the Bay Area Board of Education, and local police departments. The efforts earned a commendation by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover as, "a graphic message which may mean the difference between life and death for countless youngsters," and was requested by police departments throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.
From time to time Fiset continued to file news reports. He wrote about the airlift of Vietnamese-American children out of Vietnam by Ed Daly, a friend and the flamboyant owner of World Airways. In 1973, Fiset was one of the first to file an eyewitness report on the crash of the Soviet SST TU-144 crash at the Paris Air Show.
An avid golfer, Fiset participated in many civic groups and fund raisers. He taught news writing and reporting at the College of Alameda and for many years was a board member for JACKIE, an agency that finds foster homes for children.
He was married for almost 60 years and is survived by his wife, Marian Fiset of Walnut Creek, his sons Rick Fiset of Danville, Gary Fiset of Alamo, daughter Michele Fiset Rice of Bryn Mawr, PA, and his eight grandchildren. Bill Fiset died peacefully on Sunday, May 2, in Concord, CA.