Bill Rappleye, longtime political reporter, dies from cancer

CRANSTON, R.I. (AP) — A longtime political reporter in Rhode Island who won numerous awards over a 40-year career has died at 66.

Bill Rappleye died Thursday, reports WJAR-TV, the television station where he'd worked. He had brain cancer.

Rappleye spent 18 years at the NBC affiliate mainly covering politics, including hosting the station's political talk show, moderating campaign debates and reporting from the national conventions. He left last year to report for “Rhode Island PBS Weekly” on RIPBS.

Rappleye also reported in Boston and New York, WJAR reported.

Scott Isaacs, the station's news director, remembered Rappleye as a “tough questioner of people in power."

Many of the state's top politicians also shared their condolences Thursday.

“Bill was one of the best," Gov. Gina Raimondo said in a statement. “A tenacious reporter, he never shied away from asking tough questions or getting to the bottom of a story. He was thoughtful and smart, but also kind and incredibly funny.”

Rappleye's five daughters said their father will be remembered for his “quick wit, love of nature, unpretentiousness and empathy for the less fortunate.”

“His life’s work was to be the champion of the ‘little guy,’ to tell their stories, and to hold politicians accountable for their actions,” they said in statement. “While we know him as our sweet, beloved father, politicians did their best to evade him when they saw Bill at the state capital.”

Rappleye was born in Houston and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His brother, Charles Rappleye, a Los Angeles-based investigative reporter and author, died in 2018 from cancer.