In 2012, Bill McCreary was among a number of esteemed journalists, in a tribute on WABC-TV for the legendary and stricken Gil Noble. On that occasion, Bill remarked on Noble’s influence on his career, and now the tributes are pouring in for McCreary who joined the ancestors on April 4. He was 87. The cause was a neurological disease he had for many years, said O’Kellon McCreary, his wife of 62 years and only immediate survivor.
Our tardiness on his death was not characteristic of McCreary and his trailblazing journalism. He was often the first to deliver a breaking news story as well as providing a thorough account of it.
“A news legend has passed away,” the Guardians NYPD announced on social media, and Cheryl Wills of NY1 echoed those sentiments. “Black newscasters were frowned upon for telling the truth about discrimination and other societal ills in urban America. Bill McCreary told the unvarnished truth, and that’s what set him apart. He told it with tremendous dignity and integrity.” Wills said she had met McCreary when she was a production assistant at Fox 5.
Like Noble, who died in 2012 after a short illness, McCreary got a foot in the door of mainstream journalism in 1967 when he was hired at WNEW later to become Channel 5, and where he gained popularity as a co-anchor, joining Noble, Melba Tolliver and Bob Teague as Black faces on the television networks. But unlike the others, McCreary’s stay at the station was long and productive, so much so that by 1978 his “McCreary Report” was a must-see. This was the same year that Fox 5 News named him a vice president there.
According to an AP news report, the Emmy Award-winning McCreary was born on Aug. 8, 1933, in Blackville, S.C., to Simon and Ollie McCreary. He moved to the Lower East Side of Manhattan as an infant with his mother, who became a teacher’s assistant. He attended Baruch College after graduation from Seward Park High School. From 1953 to 1955 he served in the Army. It was as an announcer at WWRL that he began his broadcasting journey. Given his skills and nose for the news, he was soon a beat reporter and later news director at WLIB.
McCreary was the recipient of numerous awards, including an Emmy for “Black News” and later shared one with John Roland on the 10 O’Clock News. With Dr. Gerald Deas, whose column appears in these pages, McCreary shared a commendation from the FDA on the dangers of consuming Argo starch.
There was an almost no-nonsense demeanor as he went about his business, particularly when the subject was of serious concern to the public, otherwise he could be jovial and funny in his recounting a festive occasion. But as Wills observed he was a man of immense unimpeachable integrity and he will be missed.