RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — William H. “Bill” Millsaps Jr., an award-winning sports writer and executive at the Richmond Times-Dispatch during a nearly 40-year career, has died.

Millsaps died Friday night at his home after a period of declining health, his wife Nancy said Saturday. He was 77.

Millsaps, a native of Daisy, Tennessee, played basketball at the University of Tennessee and started his career as a copy boy at the Chattanooga Times. He joined the Times-Dispatch as a sports writer in 1966 after three years at the Knoxville Journal and later became a columnist and sports editor. His columns earned him wide acclaim and he is the last sports editor at the paper to also serve as a regular columnist. He was named managing editor in 1992 and elevated to vice president and executive editor in 1994.

He retired in 2005 but continued to write guest columns and book reviews.

In 2011, Millsaps was the recipient of the Red Smith Award, the nation’s top sports journalism award given annually by The Associated Press Sports Editors for having made major contributions to sports journalism. He also was a former president of APSE and of the United States Basketball Writers Association.

He was named Virginia sports writer of the year 11 times by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Millsaps is a member of the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame, the USBWA Hall of Fame, the Virginia Golf Hall of Fame, and is enshrined in the media wing of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.