Friday, September 23, 2011

A life worth remembering

J. Robb Brady, former publisher of theIdaho Falls Post Register, died this week at the age of 92. Typically, his passing would appear on the obituary page and family and friends would note the time and place of the funeral. But Robb Brady was more than your typical newsman or typical anything. He was a brilliant, self-effacing man who loved Idaho with all his heart and soul and clearly wanted to leave it a better place after he was gone.

Robb loved Idaho up close and personal. He skied, played tennis and even rollerbladed into his 90s. He loved his ranch in the Sawtooth Valley and backpacking in the Idaho wilderness. He knew how valuable and how rare such experiences are. Robb believed that calculating highest and best use has more to do with what land already is than how many houses can be jammed onto it or how much can be dug out of it.

Robb believed newspapers and journalism are a sacred trust. When he retired as publisher in 1988, he made sure the Post Register remained an independent community newspaper by giving up the additional dollars a national chain would surely have paid. Instead, he passed it at a discount to the next generation of Bradys.

While Robb worried personally when editorial positions separated him from the community he loved, it was never his intent to enrage. He simply believed his paper had to pay the cost of lost revenue for holding an unpopular position versus the cost of not saying what he knew to be true.

Robb and Express board Chair Martha Poitevin Page, Robb’s niece, spent hours arguing/debating/discussing the role of a newspaper for its community and its readers. At times, he was jealous of the Wood River Valley’s strong environmental community. We at the Express are simply proud of having a strong connection to a man who in the 1960s had the courage to take on the mining industry in order to save the White Clouds, and who would eventually be recognized as a founder of the field of environmental journalism.

So why is Robb Brady’s passing noteworthy? Because for all who knew him, for all who read or were influenced by his words, for all who will hike the high mountains of central Idaho or any other wild place preserved in the name of future generations, this humble, loving, generous man has been proof that ethics, the pursuit of truth, courage and commitment are really the best paths to a long life well lived, no matter how many people know your name.

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