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Former Journal editorial page editor dies

Bill Hume

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Bill Hume was passionate about water and Native American issues, and tackled both as a journalist with the Albuquerque Journal and a member of former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration.

As an investigative reporter at the Journal, he wrote stories about organized crime, which led him to be threatened with jail for trying to protect a source.

Hume died Wednesday of bladder cancer. He was 78.

“As an investigative reporter, and editorial page editor and writer, Bill set a journalism standard over many years that few could ever hope to match,” Journal Senior Editor Kent Walz said. “Brilliant and analytical, he was unfailing in adhering to his journalism compass, but did it as a gentleman and with civility.”

He served on the Journal’s staff for 36 years after graduating from the University of New Mexico with a journalism degree in 1966.

Over the years, he covered the police beat, was a general assignment reporter, state editor and investigative reporter before joining the editorial board. He was editorial page editor from 1985 through 2002.

“He loved writing about water issues,” his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Hume, said. “He loved writing about Native American issues. He wrote something about all of the pueblos.”

Hume won numerous awards for editorial writing. He was a member of the Investigative Reporters and Editors team that prepared an in-depth report on organized crime and political corruption in Arizona following the car bomb death of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles in 1976.

In a libel lawsuit against the Journal filed by attorney William Marchiondo, Hume was found in contempt of court and threatened with jail time for his refusal to identify a confidential source.

“The confidential source came forward,” retired attorney Jim Dines said, and Hume avoided jail time.

Dines worked closely with Hume on the case, and said then-Journal Publisher Tom Lang backed his reporter’s decision not to reveal the confidential source.

“As a media attorney, I admired both of them for that,” Dines said.

The Journal prevailed in the case.

Dines called Hume a “consummate investigative reporter.”

“Once he got into a situation, he was extremely thorough,” he said. “He wanted to make sure what he reported was fair and balanced.”

Hume left the Journal in 2002 to serve as director of policy in Richardson’s administration. He continued to work on water issues, Native American issues and the state’s relationship with Mexico while a member of the governor’s staff, his wife said.

On Thursday, Richardson said: “I am incredibly saddened by the death of Bill Hume, my chief policy adviser for eight years. He was instrumental in many of our initiatives: water, taxes, energy, trade with Mexico and health care. Coupled with his outstanding journalistic career at the Albuquerque Journal, he was a great New Mexican and a man for all seasons.”

After Hume’s retirement from public life in 2009, he wrote op-ed columns on water issues that were published on the Journal’s editorial pages.

Hume was born in Albuquerque but moved to Socorro as a child, where his father, William Hume II, held numerous positions on the New Mexico Tech faculty as a physicist. Bill Hume graduated from Socorro High School and attended Tech before enlisting in the U.S. Army. He served in the Army from 1960-63.

“It was a tough job, but somebody had to do it,” he once said about his military service.

He said he was assigned to a radio intercept station not far from the border with East Germany when the Cuban Missile Crisis unfolded. “It was a sobering moment … when the sergeant stuck his head in our door at 3 in the morning and said, ‘Get up, pack your duffle bag, put on your web gear, draw your weapon and report to the motor pool – this is no drill!'”

He took classes again at Tech before transferring to UNM.

Hume had his pilot license, played the guitar and had an appreciation of fast European luxury cars. He served on the board of the Rio Grande Agricultural Land Trust, and on the board of directors of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his son, Will Hume; daughter Betsy Hume and partner Ali Hashemian; sisters Jane Anderson, Mary Hume and Ann Hume and her husband, Bill Mathews; brother Bob Hume; and special cousins Mary Ann Stephenson, Craig Stephenson and Ann Stephenson.

The family is planning a private grave-side service. No other services are planned.

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