Communicators fondly remember Brady

The former White House press secretary, who was a prominent gun-control advocate after he was wounded in an assassination attempt on President Reagan, was remembered for his humor and good nature.

Brady with President Bill Clinton
Brady with President Bill Clinton

WASHINGTON: Many across the nation’s capital paused to reflect on the life of former Reagan press secretary and gun-control advocate James Brady, who passed away on Monday. He was 73.

Brady was President Ronald Reagan’s spokesman until 1989 – though he did not serve in a day-to-day capacity after suffering brain damage in an assassination attempt on the president in 1981. He was also remembered for his gun-control crusade after the attack that left him in a wheelchair. In 1993, lawmakers passed the "Brady Bill," which made background checks and a waiting period a requirement for prospective gun owners.

DC-based PR professionals remembered Brady for his work at the White House and beyond, noting that levity was one of his standout traits.

Joe Lockhart, founding partner and MD at the Glover Park Group and former press secretary to President Bill Clinton:
"I'll remember that no matter how tough things got, for his president or in his own life, the true test of strength and courage was to keep fighting – and in Jim's case, with a smile and good humor."

Rob Rehg, regional president, Edelman:
"I will remember Jim Brady’s amazing sense of humor and how he reflexively fell back on it to such great effect no matter how difficult the situation was. He relied on it during the most stressful situations, and it worked for him and everyone he touched. He had a gift for making people laugh wherever he was."

Margaret Dunning, managing partner at Widmeyer, a Finn Partners Company:
"He focused on the future and what he could constructively do rather than on the ‘whys’ or unfairness of what happened to him - and he did it with humor, life's great salve."

All 11 surviving White House press secretaries released a joint statement of their own on Monday, mourning a club member and friend.

"Jim Brady defined the role of the modern White House press secretary. With his passing, we lost a friend and mentor, and the country lost a selfless public servant who dedicated his life to service, even in the face of tragedy," the statement said. "Jim set the model and standard for the rest of us to follow. It's been a genuine honor for each of us to stand at the podium in the briefing room that will always bear his name."

President Barack Obama expressed his condolences in a tweet and statement.

"Every day, reporters and White House staffers walk past a plaque marking the day in 2000 that the White House Briefing Room was renamed the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room. It reads, ‘May his courage and dedication continue to inspire all who work in this room and beyond.’ Those words will endure, as will his legacy," the statement said.

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