Doug Willis, who covered Ronald Reagan's last term as governor and Jerry Brown's first during his three decades as California political writer for The Associated Press, has died.

His wife, Judy, says he died Tuesday night at a hospital in Sacramento from complications following hip surgery. He had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's about three years ago. He was 77.

Judy Willis says it is especially sad that her husband suffered from dementia because he had such a quick wit and fail-safe memory throughout his journalism career and their 22-year marriage.

Colleagues recalled Willis as a congenial but fierce competitor who never forgot a fact or let sources off the hook. They said no one had better access to Brown during his first turn in the governor's office in the 1970s.