Bill Bradford: A Memorial

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Bill Bradford: A Memorial

by Ari Armstrong, December 10, 2005

Bill Bradford, founder and editor of Liberty magazine, died on December 8 following a long battle with cancer.

I met Bill a couple of times and communicated with him via e-mail occasionally over the years. I sent my last e-mail to him on October 30 of this year, having heard about his illness. He wrote back, "Thanks for your good wishes." I've written several articles for Bradford's magazine.

Bradford attended the 2002 conference hosted by the Foundation for Economic Education in Las Vegas. He is shown in the photograph below, center, with J. Neil Schulman on the left and Stephen Cox on the right. Cox also contributes to Liberty and reportedly will take over as editor.

Bradford also attended the 2001 Eris Society meeting in Aspen, where he excoriated Harry Browne's Libertarian campaign for President. Browne was there too, so it was quite a debate. That's one thing about Bill Bradford: he called it like he saw it. He was not a man easily intimidated. He was not afraid to speak his mind, whether the mainstream or his friends agreed with him or not.

One of those nights in Aspen, Richard Lamping and I managed to corner Bill in a bar. Richard and I were there trying to pitch a book by Sheriff Bill Masters. Bill was loads of fun. Now I wish I could remember our conversation verbatim. But I remember a few things vividly. Bill talked about his love for riding motorcycles. I think he may have even driven a bike to Aspen. He gave a positive review of Masters's efforts. I made some fun of Liberty's plain format. An all-text cover with boring blue and black? But Bill patiently explained that Liberty's distinctive look is what distinguishes it from all the other magazines. Some people want to read provocative text rather than look at pretty pictures. Bill explained enough about the business, marketing, and sales of Liberty to convince me that he had spent a lot of time figuring out how to successfully market Liberty.

My wife came to part of the event, and we also had a pleasant conversation with Bill's wife, Kathy. Our deepest sympathies go out to her and to Bill's family and friends.

My understanding is that Bill made a fair amount of money in his younger years (doing what, I don't know), and then he basically quit his first career and poured the rest of his life into the pages of his magazine.

Bill and I had started to part ways on some intellectual matters. I have grown increasingly critical of the libertarian movement. And I've never been satisfied with Bill's handling of Ayn Rand's theories, particularly her ethics. But I will always remember him as a man with a true zest for life and as someone who devoted his heart, soul, and mind to a project that he deeply loved.

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