IBSEN firstname.lastname@example.org_county.london.london_free_press 2007-06-14 published
From cub reporter to managing editor, BRIGLIA did it his way
By Joe MATYAS, Sun Media, Thurs., June 14, 2007
In the lexicon of old-school reporters and editors, it was "30" for Anthony John BRIGLIA on Tuesday.
It was the end of the story for a man known to colleagues at The London Free Press simply as "Jack."
BRIGLIA died at 81 at Mount Hope Long Term Care Centre in London after what his family described as "a heroic struggle" with Parkinson's disease.
For about four decades, BRIGLIA worked as a reporter, editor and columnist at The Free Press, topping off his career as managing editor from 1978 to 1985.
He started, at age 16, as a part-time sports stringer.
Although it was an era of rough, gruff editors, the young scribe with the compassionate, gentle nature wasn't deterred from a newspaper career.
But he did it his way.
After earning a journalism degree at University of Western Ontario, BRIGLIA obtained a master's degree at Columbia University in New York City.
Degrees in hand, he returned to The Free Press.
A reporter with a master's degree was "unusual" in the 1950s, said Norm IBSEN, a colleague who made his mark as an Ontario legislature reporter and editorial page editor.
Newspapers were then full of people who worked their way up from the bottom, IBSEN said.
BRIGLIA differed from the old school as an opera lover, said IBSEN, adding he was also an avid baseball fan.
Ivor WILLIAMS, managing editor before BRIGLIA, remembered him as "a gentleman. He carried himself with a lot of dignity. Everybody liked him."
At the peak of his career, BRIGLIA served on the Ontario Press Council for seven years, was vice-president of the Canadian managing editors association and chair of the editorial division of the Canadian Daily Newspapers Association.
He was also The Free Press's ombudsman from 1985 to 1991, appointed to represent the concerns of readers.
Gord SANDERSON, who succeeded BRIGLIA as reader's advocate, said "I respected his love of the business and dedication to high standards of journalism that he displayed as ombudsman."
BRIGLIA believed editors should be held accountable for what's published in the newspaper and he frequently sided with readers' complaints.
"He was a fair, thoughtful fellow," said SANDERSON.
BRIGLIA and his wife, Mary, were parents to five children -- all of them adopted, his son John BRIGLIA said.
"Mom and dad were devoted parents," he said. "We certainly had a sense of family."
John Sr. was "an elegant, loving, caring, humble man," he said.
"He loved opera, music and baseball, especially the New York Yankees."
Although he suffered with Parkinson's for the last five years of his life, he never lost his sense of humour, said John.
"He had a strong faith. He didn't talk about it much, but it was a source of strength and comfort to him."
Friends of BRIGLIA will be received by his family at the Millard George Funeral Home on Ridout Street in London from 2 to 4 p.m. on Friday.
A funeral mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Saint Martin of Tours Catholic Church at Cathcart Street and Duchess Avenue.
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