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Bill Bradford, RIP

I am very deeply saddened to report that my dear friend Bill Bradford passed away on Thursday, December 8, 2005 at the age of 58. He was the founder of Liberty magazine and a founding co-editor and publisher of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. He died at his home in Port Townsend, Washington, surrounded by family and friends, after many months of battling cancer.

Stephen Cox, the new senior editor of Liberty, has announced that "an upcoming issue [of the magazine] will feature a commemoration of Billís life. His work will continue."

I can only echo Stephen's words with regard to The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. Bill's workóour workówill continue. I hope to contribute to the Liberty commemoration, and I will certainly write a remembrance for the Spring 2006 issue of JARS.

This is a profoundly painful personal loss for me and for all those who were touched by Bill's life. I send my love and support to Bill's wife Kathy and to the family.

Rest in peace, friend.

Update: The Seattle Times published an obituary here. See also Ari Armstrong; Jesse Walker at "Hit and Run" (where I left a comment); and Brian Doherty too. Additional posts of interest: Eric Garris; Anthony Gregory; Rational Review; and The Webzine (written by Wirkman Virkkala).

Comments welcome. Cross-posted to L&P.


Though I didn't know Bill Bradford personally I am familiar with some of his work, and his passing is indeed saddening. My deepest sympathies to all who are mourning his loss on a personal level.


This is dreadful news. I had heard that Bill had been ill.

Liberty magazine is a very valuable asset for the libertarian movement, not only in the US but across the world. I look forward to issues landing on my doormat every month.

Bill has been kind enough to publish several of my articles under my own name and psueudonym. He was always easy to deal with.

I will make a personal effort to send in new material and support Stephen Cox and the magazine's team. We owe it to Bill to ensure that Liberty thrives even though he has left us.

Please pass on my deepest sympathies to every one at Liberty and Bill's family. He will be sadly missed.

Ken Irvine

My condolences. I posted the following at L&P, but thought I should post it here also:
That's really a shame. I didn't know him personally, although we corresponded once or twice, but his _Liberty_ magazine has been a great asset to libertarianism. The idea that there ought to be intra-libertarian discussion and a magazine devoted to it was a valuable one. He was clearly a principled and dedicated person, with a true commitment to liberty. I know Steve Cox will do a great job, but Bradford will be sorely missed. I remember one time when I was still in grad school, Bradford ran some poll on most influential libertarians, and it occurred to me that he should have been on the list. Too bad. My condolences to those of you who knew him personally.

Chris; Bill Bradford will be missed. Liberty is a mixed bag but more good than bad. I hope those close to Bradford go well through this trying time. Chris Grieb

I only met Bill Bradford briefly at an LP convention or two, and exchanged a few notes with him by email. But I strongly respected his initiative and perserverence in founding Liberty magazine and making a going venture out of it.

As another person posting here alluded to, Liberty has served an invaluable purpose in providing a communication forum within the movement. Bill could be a little hard on the Libertarian Party at times, but his criticisms were generally well-taken, and always written with the recognition that the party's doings matter and are newsworthy. One also sensed behind those criticisms his strong desire for the libertarian cause he cared so much about to succeed.

Not only was Bill from all external appearances a capable reporter, editor and manager, but I frequently found his pieces to be some of the more thoughtful and insightful reads in Liberty, which is no small praise considering the quality of many of the articles therein.

I too offer my sympathy to his friends and family, and the assurance that the world is a better place and the libertarian movement a stronger one thanks to Bill's efforts.

Yours in liberty,

((( Starchild )))

Outreach Director, Libertarian Party of San Francisco


You're an atheist, so I'm curious: what's with the "rest in peace" stuff?


I'm sorry to hear that. Please accept my condolences.

Folks, I do hope the comments keep a comin'. For now, I'd just like to add a few additional thoughts. I've been asked to write a commemoration for the upcoming issue of Liberty, so I won't review all the things I hope to discuss there. I will be writing about my personal and professional relationship with Bill; the downs, the ups, and the zig-zags.

Let me just assure the world---those who are fans and those who are detractors---that The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies lives. I thank those who are fans for your many offlist notes of support. We're here to stay.

I did want to follow-up here, however, based on some of the comments.

First, thanks Ken G., for posting that photo.

Matthew and Technomaget, thanks for your good thoughts.

Ken I., I'm sure Stephen will be profoundly grateful for your continued support of the magazine. I'm sure Bill's family and friends appreciate your good wishes.

Aeon, thanks for your personal condolences here and at L&P. I agree that "intra-libertarian discussion" is extremely important and very valuable, and that Liberty has done it well.

Of course, I agree with Chris G. that the "intra-libertarian discussion" can sometimes be a "mixed bag"; like the best of thought-provoking magazines, Liberty publishes pieces that will both inspire and infuriate. And, from my perspective, that can be a good thing.

Starchild, your memories of Bradford, especially his criticisms of the LP and others, are shared by many, I'm sure. You are also so right to note "his strong desire for the libertarian cause he cared so much about to succeed."

Finally, Jon, as far as the "rest in peace" expression: I think it has long been culturally co-opted by nonbelievers. I wish many people "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Easter" too, and partake in many of the traditions of the current season (including putting up a Christmas tree and even an old creche, glorious in its aesthetic, and a family heirloom for over 50 years). I'm not very "religious" about my beliefs, or lack thereof. But all these expressions are, generally, expressions of good will.

In this particular context, this much applies: Bill Bradford suffered, and died; today, he suffers no more. I will miss him very much, but I am thankful that his suffering is over. And, deep down, my colloquial use of "RIP" is less about Bill and more about those who survive him: his wife, his family, his friends... those of us who mourn his death, and who need now to rest peacefully, knowing that his suffering is over and that the memory of his life and achievements will live on.

I am stunned, shocked and deeply saddened by the loss of Bill Bradford. I have been a loyal reader of his works since the days of Liberty Coins, and have saved every issue of Liberty Magazine. His uncompromising commitment to liberty and peace, and his consistent Rothbardian approach to issues was my rock and my refuge in a swirling sea of political machinations. I could always count on Bill to view the news and issues through a thoughtful, comprehensible libertarian lens. His voice will be sorely missed in our home. Judy and I grieve deeply by his premature passing. Please extend our heartfelt sympathies to his family and friends.

Tim and Judy Dove
Willis, Texas

Terrible news. RW always made me laugh, especially at his denunciation of the negative work so many freedom promoters have performed in recent years. His scandalous reports on the LP were part of the reason for my departure from supporting political parties in any form. His comedic side was rare in the culture of freedom -- we're generally so venomous even to one another. I hope Liberty can continue on without him, as it is the last print media that I actually find myself purchasing at the book store.

Chris, Bill's longtime managing editor, Tim Virkkala, posted a piece on his own blog about why death should be meaningful even if we cease to exist in any meaningful sense after we die.


I want to add my respects for Bill Bradford. He was the first to publish me when I was yet out of high school, and for that I am forever grateful. I did have the pleasure of meeting him once, at a libertarian conference, and he was very kind, gracious, good-humored and sunny. (Surprisingly so -- I was expecting a caustic and rancorous radical. I couldn't have been further off.) The news of his premature death saddened me greatly.

The more irritated I get with the politics of persuasion, the more attractive becomes an introspective mission like Liberty's. I am confident that Steve Cox -- whose literary frame of reference and knowledge is probably wider than any active libertarian's -- will do very interesting things with the magazine.

Chris, my condolences for the loss of your dear friend.

I was a fellow member of the Eris Society with Bill (www.Erissociety.org) and greatly enjoyed his friendship. He was wise as well as witty.

I will miss his Outlook & Analysis Gold and Silver newsletter as well. Does anyone know if there is any chance of this publication continuing? Kathy, if you read this I only wish I could express how much I looked up to Bill. He was my idea of a proud and productive capitalist. He had extended several courtesies to me and I am most grateful for all he has done.

Tim and Judy Dove, A.B. Dada, Eric D. Dixon, Alec Mouhibian, and Tim Peterson: Thank you for your good thoughts and kind words.

BTW, I got a note offlist from a reader who was tickled by the discussion here of RIP. The reader pointed out that "the atheists who ran the French reign of terror put signs up at the cemeteries saying, 'Death Is an Eternal Sleep.'"

Bill Bradford was a great libertarian. No doubt about it. He contributed much to our cause.

All the greats are quirky.

RIP, Bill.

Chris Whitten, it is so good to see you at Notablog, and amen to your comments.

I met Bill and Kathy for the first time at the 1990 Eris Society gathering in Aspen, Colorado. I have subscribed to LIBERTY since Murray Rothbard sent me a note suggesting I do so.

It is sad to see a productive and noble life cut short in such a painful fashion. My heart goes out to Kathy. This loss to the libertarian movement and letters comes so soon after the death of Joan Kennedy Taylor.

I'll probably write something on my own blog, www.mythsmasher.blogspot.com

Exactly my sentiments, Richard---especially with such a sad event happening after the passing of Joan Kennedy Taylor.

Keep us posted on anything you write for your blog.