Gregory Stanford, a columnist for the editorial pages of The Milwaukee Journal and Journal Sentinel who worked diligently to build bridges, highlight hope and lessen Milwaukee’s racial disparities and injustices, died Saturday of lung cancer. He was 72.
Stanford’s career spanned four decades, first as a reporter, then as an editorial writer and columnist for 19 years before retiring in 2007.
Stanford came to Milwaukee to attend Marquette University in 1964 after graduating from St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C. He was the first in his family to leave the D.C. area, his older brother, Amos Stanford, said. Greg didn’t expect the Midwestern city to become his home. But it did.
“A lot of it had to do with the injustices he saw (in Milwaukee),” Amos said.
Stanford launched his career as a general assignment reporter at The Journal in 1971. He moved on to cover the federal courts beat and urban affairs, which included stories about racial segregation in the Milwaukee Police Department under Chief Harold Breier. Stanford’s reporting revealed that the U.S. Justice Department was considering withholding federal revenue sharing funds from the city due to discrimination on the police force. After the Legislature stripped Breier of much of his unilateral authority, he retired in 1984.
Stanford joined The Journal’s editorial board in 1988 and started writing his column, in which he often sought to right wrongs while appealing to people in power to listen to their better angels.
“He would take the flack that came.”
His longtime partner, art activist Cynthia Henry, said Stanford was driven by “being able to tell a story and giving a voice to those who didn’t have one and shining a light on the problems that keep people impoverished.”
He leaves behind Henry, his partner of 30 years; two sons, Jay Stanford and Frantz Stanford; three siblings Amos Stanford, Jacqueline Stanford and Joanna Stanford; grandson Miles Rice; Henry’s children Dana Henry and Dwane Henry; granddaughter Ayzha Ternoir; and great-grandson Boston Cox. He was preceded in death by his mother and father.
Funeral services for Stanford are pending.