William F. Morem, 63, a former longtime reporter and editor at The Tribune, was found dead in his Los Osos home Monday.
The cause of death is unknown. The San Luis Obispo County Coroner’s Office is reviewing the case to determine if it will conduct an autopsy, according to Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Cipolla.
Morem was found inside his home by the Sheriff’s Office after receiving notification from the U.S. Postal Service that mail was piling up and asking if it could check on his welfare, Cipolla said.
During his 26-year career as a journalist in San Luis Obispo County, he worked as editor of The Cambrian as well as The Sun Bulletin in Morro Bay and served as The Tribune’s opinion editor for several years before becoming a columnist, copy editor and reporter.
“Bill touched thousands with his work — pursuing countless stories that made a difference in the communities he served,” said Executive Editor Sandra Duerr, adding that he was especially passionate in advocating for the homeless and the downtrodden.
When he retired, Opinion Editor Stephanie Finucane wrote that it was Morem’s gift “for telling the story of the underdog — be it a homeless family or a veteran dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder — that readers responded to most.”
"It's impossible to say how many thousands of dollars Bill helped raise for worthy causes or how many people were inspired to lend a hand or give a hug to someone in need after reading one of his columns,” she noted.
Shirley Bianchi, a former San Luis Obispo County supervisor and former county Planning Commission member, recalled Morem as a “really good journalist who tried very, very hard to define what the real story was. … I think he understood that oftentimes there are not two equal sides to a story, that one side of a story would have more validity and facts to support it than the other side.”
Bianchi, who described herself as the “original non-politically correct candidate,” also recalled Morem’s quick wit. Once, she said, he told her: “ ‘You know, sometimes you just say things and it’s like biting on aluminum foil — and it makes your teeth hurt.’ I never forgot that.”
Ken Hampian, former San Luis Obispo city manager, said that because Morem was a native son, “he deeply cared about what was going on in the county and his passion came through in his writing and reporting. He was a true journalist in the old school tradition —and a great guy with a lot of spunk and spirit and a great sense of fair play. His opinion mattered a lot in City Hall. Even when he didn’t agree with what we were doing, he was unfailingly thorough and fair.”
Morem’s survivors include his former wife Sharon Morem, daughter Caitlin and her fiancé Kenny Vaughan, grandson Madden Vaughan, brother Jim Morem of Wisconsin and many relatives in the Midwest.