Kim Williams (September 23, 1923 - August 6, 1986) was an American naturalist, writer, and the longest-ever running guest commenter on NPR where she was a guest commentator on the radio show All Things Considered for over ten and a half years.
Kim Williams was born on September 23, 1923 as Elizabeth Ardea Kandiko as the fourth child (of seven) as the daughter of Hungarian immigrants. She grew up on a farm in the Gallatin Township in New York and attended and graduated from Hudson High School and subsequently Cornell University where she graduated with a degree in human ecology with a minor in botany.
After her graduation she took jobs at various publications such as the Los Angeles Examiner and Flower Grower magazine, it was also at this time that she started writing poetry and short prose based on personal experience. In 1951, she met and married her husband Mel Williams and then moved to Santiago, Chile for twenty years. During her time in Chile, Williams wrote poems, plays, and short stories, she also wrote a newspaper column and taught English at the Catholic University of Chile. While in Chile she also and wrote and published her first two books, High Heels in the Andes and Wild Animals of Chile.
In 1971 she and her husband returned to the United States and settled in Missoula, Montana where she would remain the rest of her life. Williams while living in Missoula returned to college and in 1981 received her masters degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Montana. Also while living in Missoula she published her final two books, Eating Wild Plants and Kim Williams' Book of Uncommon Sense: A Practical Guide With 10 Rules for Nearly Everything. In addition, she occasionally taught classes on edible wild plants at the University of Montana and wrote a newspaper column on wildflowers & plants for the Missoulian which would lead to her getting a radio show on KUFM and subsequently a radio show on NPR where she had as many 2.5 million listeners.
Williams was elected in 1974 to serve on the City Government Study Commission in Missoula, and she also ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Montana House of Representatives in 1978. In 1986 Williams announced on the radio program All Things Considered three weeks before her death that she had terminal cancer and was refusing chemotherapy. On July 16, 1986 on what would be her last radio broadcast she said to Susan Stamberg co-host of All Things Considered that "I wish to die in peace, not in pieces." Her death was mourned and recognized thought the United States, with commentaries in The New York Times,The New Yorker, and numerous smaller newspapers. A trail along the Clark Fork River in Missoula was named in her memory in 1987. and the Kim Williams Graduate Fellowship was founded for journalism students at The University of Montana.
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