William H. Stroud, 65, a journalist and electronic-publishing pioneer who led the transition of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News from typewriters to computers, died Friday of prostate cancer at Roxborough Memorial Hospital. He lived in West Mount Airy.
Mr. Stroud, the son of a teacher and cotton farmer, grew up in McGehee, Ark., where he played football and was a champion shot putter.
He studied at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark., for three years before earning a bachelor's degree in history in 1964 from the University of Iowa. That same year he married Jamie Bigham, whom he had met at a church function in high school.
He followed his two older brothers, Joe and George, into the newspaper business. Mr. Stroud was hired as a reporter at the Pine Bluff (Ark.) Commercial by that paper's managing editor, Gene Foreman, who later was managing editor of The Inquirer. Mr. Stroud wrote about the first wave of school desegregation in southeast Arkansas.
"Bill and I have been colleagues and friends for four decades," said Foreman, who retired from The Inquirer in 1998. "He was an endearing journalist. He wanted to tell you everything - what you wanted to know and some things you didn't want to know."
After stints at the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times and the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Mr. Stroud and his family moved to West Mount Airy in 1973 and he began his 23-year career at The Inquirer. Mr. Stroud was part of the team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1980 for coverage of the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant.
He held several editing positions at The Inquirer before being named assistant managing editor and later head of publishing systems by executive editor Gene Roberts in the early 1980s.
"Bill understood the technology of electronic publishing," Foreman said. "We knew he would get us to the right place in the computer era."
"Bill was a key figure in building a new Inquirer," said Gene Roberts, former executive editor of The Inquirer. "He was the architect of computerization and he helped create one of the best editing systems in the industry. He had extremely high standards in accuracy, grammar, and quality of writing. The paper would not have been successful in publishing excellence without him."
In 1996, Mr. Stroud took a job as newspaper solutions director at Unisys Corp. in Blue Bell. Four years later, he was laid off and was without a job for the first time in his adult life.
Mr. Stroud invested his savings in Penguin Photo, a photo-finishing store in Chestnut Hill, where he also taught digital photography. He threw a big party for his neighbors when he closed the store in 2007 because of failing health.
Mr. Stroud had a lifelong passion for photography. He was a common sight behind the camera at weddings and neighborhood events. With a keen, artistic eye, he photographed people and scenes worldwide and wrote enchanting travel stories.
A Methodist since childhood, Mr. Stroud taught adult Sunday school at the United Methodist Church of Bala Cynwyd until weeks before his death.
Mr. Stroud backed his daughter, Beth, when she lost her credentials as an ordained minister of First Methodist Church of Germantown in 2004 because of her sexual orientation. "I am now a lay person in the church," she said. "My father made appearances on CNN and other media supporting me."
In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Stroud is survived by two other daughters, Mary Henson-Stroud and Ellen; three grandchildren; and a brother.
Friends may visit at 6 p.m. Thursday at his home and at 1 p.m. Friday at the United Methodist Church of Bala Cynwyd, 314 Levering Mill Rd. A funeral will be held at the church at 3 p.m. Friday. Burial is private.
Donations may be made to Fox Chase Cancer Center, 333 Cottman Ave., Philadelphia 19111.