Ex-Detroit News sportswriter Bill Halls dies at 86

The Detroit News
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Bill Halls

Former Detroit News sportswriter Bill Halls left his mark with tireless persistence and professionalism.

“If his name was on the product, he gave everything he had,” said Mike O’Hara, his longtime friend and colleague. “He didn’t take shortcuts.”

Mr. Halls, of Pleasant Ridge, died Thursday, June 20, 2019, after a long illness. He was 86.

During 30 years at The News, the Michigan native covered a slew of high-profile teams, associates said: the Detroit Pistons, University of Michigan and Michigan State University football and basketball squads, as well as major championship tennis. 

Throughout numerous seasons and events, Mr. Halls, sometimes known as "Hallsy," relished the beat.

“He just knew how to work,” said O’Hara, a former News sportswriter. “If he had a story angle, he’d pursue it right to the end.”

That approach earned the journalist renown.

“I didn’t know anyone who didn’t like him,” said Phil Laciura, former executive sports editor at The News. “Everyone really respected him.”

During his tenure, Mr. Halls was among those who helped launch what became the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

The sportswriters’ stature was such that for his 80th birthday in 2013, then-NBA Commissioner David Stern sent him a letter.

"Your many years of covering the NBA were, and still are, appreciated," Stern wrote. "... There aren't many who can say they watched the Pistons from the days of Earl Lloyd and Ray Scott, through Dave Bing and Bob Lanier, and into the Chuck Daly-and Isiah-led championship teams."

Mr. Halls’ appreciation for athletics stretched back to his youth.

Born March 5, 1933, Mr. Halls grew up in Highland Park and played baseball, basketball, golf and tennis, O’Hara said.

After high school, he attended Highland Park Junior College and Northwestern University and graduated from Wayne State University.

Mr. Halls worked at the Highland Parker, the Royal Oak Tribune and the Detroit bureau of the Associated Press before joining The News in 1968.

Before retiring in 1998, he was assigned to the business department, colleagues said.

Outside of work, Mr. Halls had also managed a Detroit Press Club softball team and was an avid golfer, friends and colleagues said.

He also was known as a humorous storyteller who “just had a way about him,” O’Hara said. “He just was the kind of person people wanted to be with because he made people feel good.”

Survivors include his wife of 60 years, Margaret; a son, David; daughters Leslie Green and Carolyn Bernardi; four grandchildren; and numerous nephews and nieces. 

Visitation is scheduled for 2:30-8 p.m. Tuesday at the Wessels & Wilk Funeral Home, 23690 Woodward Avenue, Pleasant Ridge.

Services are 11 a.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.

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