Gary Kamiya (b. 1953)
Writer Gary Kamiya attended Willard from 1965 to 1967, when, he says, “It felt like a nice introduction to the wider world and to society. . . Willard was a microcosm of Berkeley at that time.” Among his memorable Willard teachers were a “really tough” science teacher named Mr. Williams and the “charismatic, inspiring” history teacher Mrs. Ploss, whose class he credits with awakening an early interest in history and storytelling. Kamiya went on to have an eclectic career which included driving a taxi in San Francisco for 7 years while completing college and working as a freelance writer. He started a shortlived city magazine called Frisko and worked for five years at the San Francisco Examiner before co-founding the groundbreaking web site Salon.com in 1995. In 2013 he became the executive editor of San Francisco Magazine. His book Cool Gray City of Love is an acclaimed exploration of his home city of San Francisco. He also writes the San Francisco Chronicle column “Portals to the Past,” which features unusual and little-known stories from San Francisco history.