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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, this is a poignant eulogy of many of the accomplishments of one of my best and personal friends, Otis Brumby, Jr. I could read all of his accomplishments if I wanted to. There are times we are called on to offer eulogies on the floor of the Senate because we have to or because it is appropriate. There are times we give eulogies for great past leaders of our State, but on rare occasions, such as the one I have today, we do it for someone for whom we have tremendous respect, love, and compassion.
To Otis Brumby, Jr.'s wife Martha Lee, his daughters Anna, Betsy, Lee, Spain, his son-in-law Heath, and his son Otis Brumby III, my love and compassion goes out to each of them during their tragedy.
Wednesday morning I will return to Marietta, GA, to be part of the memorial service to honor Otis Brumby. I thought it would be better to talk about the Otis Brumby I knew rather than the one the papers are writing about. To me he was the epitome of a journalist, a father, a friend, and a husband. Otis Brumby, Jr. got his start in some ways on the floor of the U.S. Senate because in the late 1950s his father arranged for him to page for Richard B. Russell, who, as all of us know, was really the master of the Senate before Lyndon Johnson when he was leader, later Vice President, and finally President.
Otis Brumby learned a lot in this Chamber and on this floor. He has told me what it was like before the cameras were here back in the good old days when there was camaraderie and friendship in the Senate. He also told me about the difficult days of the civil rights era, and particularly as a son of the South and what that meant to him.
He came back to Georgia. After graduating from high school, he went to the University of the South in Sewanee, and then earned a law degree from the University of Georgia. He then headed to his passion, the law, but he didn't make it. Instead he made it to the Marietta Daily Journal as a cub reporter for his father's newspaper. At the age of 27 he was a floor manager and assistant publisher for the paper. He offered his expertise at a very young age.
At the age of 29 he came up with a unique concept. He said people would like to see their kids' pictures in the paper. They like to have stories about their sports victories. They like to have lots of pictures and stories--but just to them--and not all the fodder that might go with it. He started what became known as the Marietta Daily Journal and the Neighbor Newspaper Group. He created 27 neighborhood newspapers and all 27 of them were weekly.
They were so successful that when Gannett decided it was going to try to do a national paper called USA Today, they sent a team of investigators for 7 days to the Marietta Daily Journal to investigate their template, the way they published their paper, their meat and potatoes. Quite frankly, a lot of credit for USA Today goes to the newsroom at the Marietta Daily Journal and the brilliance of that young 29-year-old reporter who later became a publisher of that newspaper.
Otis Brumby died last week of prostate cancer and the effects of prostate cancer. He suffered for 2 years, and that has been a tragedy. But the tragedy for all of us is that he is gone; he has left a mark on our State, county, and community that can't be easily replaced.
Although he had an affinity for politics, he never served. When called on by Governors for appointments, he took them; first as State board of education chairman and later as board of education chairman for the Marietta public school system. A very wealthy man because of his success and investments, Otis Brumby never sent his children to private schools that he could afford because he believed the public schools needed to be the best, and he thought he would send his children there as a role model. And he did. They all were superstars in their schools whether in academics or athletics. Their father Otis supported those public school systems as a leader, a mentor, and a board member.
To Marietta, GA, Otis Brumby was just about everything. He was its conscience, benefactor, and leader, and from time to time he was its protagonist where he would promote discord and a lack of harmony in order to come up with the right decision.
I can tell my colleagues, as a politician, when he wrote about someone and they heard they were in the paper, the first thing they did was grab the newspaper. In fact, there is a column he wrote called ``Around Town'' that appeared every Saturday morning in the newspaper--a pretty thin part of the paper, but it was a one-page discourse on what politicians in the county were up to. On Saturday morning every politician in Marietta, GA, and Cobb County, GA, went to their mailbox and got their Marietta Daily Journal. They didn't want to see what the football score was; they wanted to see what Otis Brumby had said about them during the previous week. He was the conscience of all the politicians in the community. He was the leader in the community, and he was the benefactor of the community. He made it a much better place.
Otis was not a Republican nor was he a Democrat. He was, if anything, a populist, but he had a fiscally conservative bent to him. Unlike a lot who commentate on politics, Otis put his money where his mouth was. He wrote checks to local politicians and to people in the U.S. Senate. There wasn't a party bent to him, but there was always a fiscally conservative bent.
In fact, I will tell my colleagues when I first ran for office in Cobb County in 1974, we didn't have any Republicans. I ran as a Republican because I was a fiscal conservative. Everybody told me I was crazy. They were right; I got beat. But Otis Brumby took an interest and wrote about the campaign and some of the things we talked about and some of the things we tried to do. He propped me up long enough to get a chance to stand on my own two legs. Sure, he would knock me down from time to time--and some of those times I deserved it--but he gave me a chance. He gave everybody a chance. He was one of those journalists who would comment on what someone did, but he gave them the strength to do what was right.
Wednesday morning I am going to the funeral of my dear friend. I miss him already and will miss him more as the days go by. I love him and his family for all they have done for me, my community, and my country. So at one of those rare times when we come to the floor to eulogize, this time for me it is personal but this time for America we have lost a son, a journalist, a patriot, and I have lost a best friend.
May God bless Otis Brumby and his family, his grandchildren, and our community.
I yield the floor.
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