Grace Baptist Church in Santa Clarita will likely be overflowing Tuesday for a funeral to honor KABC Channel 7 cameraman Artie Williams III, who died last weekend while diving off Catalina Island just before his 60th birthday.
Much of Williams’ work was on sports assignments, and one of his last was at the Lakers’ press conference introducing Dwight Howard at Staples Center.
“There had to be 20 cameras there all trying to get position, but there was Artie front and center, always there early to get the best spot,” said Channel 7 sports anchor and reporter Curt Sandoval.
“He was like a brother to me. I remember my first week on the job, I was sent to do a story on a charity golf tournament in Brentwood. I knew no one. I was terrified. Artie calmly took me under his wing and introduced me to every Lakers, Rams and Raiders player there. He saved me.
“He was the kind of guy who’d call me on Father’s Day, he’d call my wife Jeanne on Mother’s Day, and he’d call just to say hi to our kids.”
Williams, who lived in Sherman Oaks, had been with KABC since 1982 and won an Emmy Award for his work on the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics coverage.
Michael Roth, the spokesman for AEG and Staples Center, said of Williams: “He represented what you’d like any journalist to be — It was just as important for Artie to make his sportscaster look good as it was to make anyone he shot and any venue he was at also look good. He wasn’t only appreciated by his colleagues but any publicist or subject of an interview he worked with. It was important that he took care of everybody.
“On top of that, he was just a pleasure to be around. I never remember seeing him in anything but a good mood, always interested in our lives and our families.”
More: A video tribute to Williams on the KABC website: http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news%2Flocal%2Flos_angeles&id=8780710
Artie Williams III, left, with Curt Sandoval, second from right, and the KABC crew at a USC football game at the Coliseum.