William Raftery, 73, of Devon, an Inquirer editor for 33 years, died April 27 of cardiac arrest at Paoli Hospital.

William “Bill” Raftery
Courtesy of the family
William “Bill” Raftery

He had been battling heart problems for the last year, said his wife, Catherine "Kay" Raftery.

Mr. Raftery joined the New York Times as a copy boy in 1965. By 1968, he was a photo assignment editor at the Times.

In 1976, heeding a call from executive editor Eugene L. Roberts Jr., Mr. Raftery left the Times for the Inquirer. For the next 33 years, he served as a photo editor, a foreign news editor, a night city desk editor, and a suburban editor. He retired in 2009.

Mr. Raftery had an earnest, helpful manner that endeared him to colleagues. He would go out of his way to provide information or contacts in the community to get a reporter started on a story.

"In the Main Line and Chester County bureaus, Bill nurtured many young reporters with gentleness, wit, and genuine interest in them and their careers," retired Inquirer reporter Tom Infield posted online.

William “Bill” Raftery, in the Inquirer newsroom during the 1970s.
Courtesy of the family
William “Bill” Raftery, in the Inquirer newsroom during the 1970s.

Born to William Raftery and Evelyn Hurley Raftery and raised in Greenwich Village, Mr. Raftery graduated from St. Agnes High School in Manhattan. He earned a bachelor of science in history from New York University and a master's degree, also in history, from Tufts University in Medford,  Mass.

During the Vietnam War, Mr. Raftery was in the Marine Reserves, but always said he hadn't served because he wasn't deployed overseas.

"He was humble and self-effacing, quiet and reserved, but with a quick wit," his wife said. "He loved corny jokes."

Mr. Raftery enjoyed reading history and English mysteries. He also loved photography, movies, and music — particularly jazz, Bruce Springsteen songs, and rock 'n roll.  He enjoyed long walks, traveling, and, of course, the newspaper business.

He was a volunteer at a West Chester food bank, and a supporter of St. John's Hospice in Philadelphia.

He donated his secondhand clothing to the men who were cared for by the hospice. First, though, he had everything dry cleaned and arranged on hangers.

"These poor guys have enough misery in their lives," he told his wife. "They should get clean and pressed clothes."

In addition to his wife of 43 years, who formerly wrote for the Inquirer, he is survived by sons Brian and Chris and two granddaughters.

A viewing from 10 to 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, May 1, at St. Monica Church, 635 First Ave., Berwyn, will be followed by a Funeral Mass at 11 a.m. at the church. Burial will be private.