Former Journal-News reporter Kathy Y. Wilson dies at 57

Former Journal-News reporter Kathy Y. Wilson was known for her no-holds-barred writing, spending much of her journalism career in Cincinnati.

She received a kidney transplant in 2020, and this year it failed. She developed pneumonia, as reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer. On Nov. 22, she died. She was 57.

“Kathy Y. Wilson was a very talented writer and a unique personality. She told it like it was when sometimes people didn’t really want to read what it was like. I always enjoyed her big laugh and outgoing nature. Southwest Ohio has lost a woman with a caring voice about the world around her,” said Dirk Q. Allen, former managing editor of the Journal-News.

Wilson, a Hamilton native, joined the Journal-News in 1994, spending five years before leaving the Butler County newspaper to write closer to home at CityBeat. She also wrote for Cincinnati Magazine, contributed to NPR, and in 2014 was the first writer-in-residence for the Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library.

She was also awarded the 2015 Sachs Fund Prize from ArtsWave for her “artistic achievements, particularly in the area of social justice.”

Described as a “multi-hyphenated nerd” ― writer-teacher-closet-poet-community-worker-playwright ― Wilson was known for her column “Your Negro Tour Guide,” which people either loved or hated, and the book of the same title which featured some of her columns.

Wilson had earned honors from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, The Cleveland Press Club, and the Associated Press Society of Ohio. She was a two-time Fellow at the Knight Center for Professional Journalists and was a finalist for a National Magazine Award for her profile of Cincinnati radio personality Bill Cunningham.

The Enquirer reported that as her reputation grew, she received offers at other newspapers in larger cities, but said she “decided to stay here. Cincinnati is so small. That’s the thing I like about it.”

CityBeat reprinted online her 2015 Thanksgiving Day column, giving thanks for the mundaneness of life as well as the adversity of life, ending that column with, “I am thankful for God’s grace and mercy in these and all things, even the things conspiring to destroy us but only making us more thankful.”

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