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Joseph F Williamson, Jr — 1925–2000

Articles: Joseph F Williamson, Jr — 1925–2000

Joseph F Williamson, Jr, died April 10, 2000, at his home in Corte Madera, California, after a gallant battle against cancer. Joe was born in Oakland, the great-grandson of Richard Williamson and Nancy Graves, who came to California in 1847 as a member of the Donner Party. He was proud of his California roots and loved to talk about native-son organizations such as Sons in Retirement and E Clampus Vitus.

Joe Williamson. Photograph by Norman Plate

Joe attended Santa Rosa Junior College and UC Berkeley before serving in the US Navy. After returning from service, he enrolled at Stanford University, graduating in 1949. While in school he began working at Sunset magazine in 1947, and worked there until his retirement in 1990. During his last years at Stanford, he studied journalism, learned about gardening at Elsa Upmann Knoll’s Garden School in Menlo Park (Elsa was then garden editor at Sunset), and absorbed the knack of writing convincing prose from Walter Doty, Sunset’s editor.

As garden editor and later managing editor, he was one of Sunset’s most influential writers and editors. He demanded two things...

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