Written by David Whaley, Editor of the Oldham Evening Chronicle before it's closure in 2017.

JIM Williams, former editor of the Oldham Evening Chronicle, has died suddenly, aged 75.

Renowned for his cutting comments in a news and sport career that spanned 45 years, Jim retired in 2010 after 10 years in the editor's chair.

It was 1968 when Jim first walked into the Union Street offices to become the local daily's Oldham Athletic reporter after starting his career three years earlier at the nearby Ashton Reporter.

It was a role that he relished, building a strong following amongst readers for his forthright verdicts and insightful reporting that saw him refuse to toe the club line and often put him at odds with the board as he followed the Latics all over the country with photographer Martin Smith. A formidable double act.

But there was respect for his honesty and long-serving manager. The late Jimmy Frizzell, always had time for his namesake, stand-up rows often calmed over a drop of the hard stuff.

Jim took that search for the truth with him when he moved on to become the Chronicle's News Editor, Deputy Editor and then Editor.

He also went on to prove his versatility when he freelanced as the anchorman to the Saturday afternoon sports show on Piccadilly Radio in the early 1980s, doing his homework to add colour and detail to the goal flashes.

He took that same keen eye for detail into Oldham's Council chamber to write hard-hitting Chronicle sketches of council debate.

Veteran Councillor John Battye remembers them well: "From Latics reporter to setting the scene at Oldham Council meetings, his reports were always sprinkled with great wit and insight.

"Councillors couldn't wait to see the next night's Chronicle to see if Jim had given them a mention - even if it was a dressing down!

"Jim was a true professional who left an unparalleled legacy of reports and editorial comment on local life and events in and around Oldham."

And Philip Hirst, former chairman of Chronicle publishers Hirst, Kidd and Rennie, added: "In Jim we had a fine writer and reporter, one of the best. No one who is a journalist can receive a higher accolade than that. "

One of Jim's finest achievements was in establishing the Pride in Oldham Awards in the wake of the Oldham Riots in 2001.

These gave recognition to hundreds of Oldhamers who went the extra mile for the borough and its people and ran for 15 years before the newspaper went into administration in 2017.

In retirement, Jim kept up with current affairs and was also an avid reader of historical fiction books.

He would be seen daily setting out from his home in Uppermill onto the glorious hills of Saddleworth, walking boots on, rucksack over his shoulder containing his packed lunch and flask.

He also did voluntary work with the Canal and River Trust and the RSPB and his retirement gift when he left the Chronicle was gardening equipment which he put to good use on an allotment - going on to to receive a merit award in 2015!

Jim was out walking only days before contracting pneumonia. He died on Friday (February 1) in the Royal Oldham Hospital with his wife Karen and daughter Jane at his bedside.

Jim leaves a son-in-law Phil and granddaughter, 17-year-old Eleanor.

Jim also had a son Adam who died of a brain tumour at the age of 34 in 2004.

Last word to Jim himself. He came in for a great deal of personal abuse when, as Chronicle, Editor, he took on the British National Party when it looked to use racial tensions to drive a wedge into the town.

"I was described on their website as ‘lying beast Williams’. I regarded that as something I should wear as a badge of honour.”