MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — Otis A. Brumby Jr. championed open government and railed against public waste and corruption during the 45 years he served as publisher of the Marietta Daily Journal, a position that earned him the respect of mayors, governors and U.S. senators.
Brumby, 72, died Saturday at his home in Cobb County, where he succeeded his father as the newspaper's publisher in 1967. The Marietta Daily Journal reported Brumby had been battling prostate cancer for nearly two years.
"I can think of no single person who's had bigger impact on Cobb County and this state than Otis," said former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes, a longtime friend of Brumby. "He excelled as a community leader and in education reform. And I think that a giant oak has fallen that will be very difficult to replace."
Born in Atlanta in 1940, Brumby had deep and prominent roots in Cobb County. His father and great-grandfather had both served as mayors of Cobb County. Brumby's father, Otis Sr., started the weekly Cobb County Times in 1916 and in 1951 purchased the Marietta Daily Journal.
After earning his law degree at the University of Georgia, Brumby came to work for his father at the Marietta newspaper in 1965 as assistant to the publisher. He took over as publisher two years later and soon launched a major expansion with the Neighbor Newspaper group, which eventually published 27 free weekly newspapers throughout metro Atlanta's suburbs.
At the Marietta Daily Journal, Brumby kept the focus on local stories — road widenings, church news and business openings — while ensuring the newspaper fulfilled its function as a government watchdog. While advocating leaner government and lower taxes on his editorial pages, Brumby also pushed to strengthen Georgia laws that ensure state and local governments are transparent to the public and the press.
"His legacy in journalism was his consistent, unrelenting effort to ensure government transparency and open meetings and records," said U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. "There's not a journalist or publisher or editorial writer in this state that did more than Otis to ensure the public's business was done in the open."
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose Georgia constituents were also readers of Brumby's newspaper, said the publisher was "integral to the growth of Cobb" as the county boomed from rural farmland to bustling suburbs during his decades leading the Marietta Daily Journal.
"Otis was consistently one of the strongest voices for more efficient government, for smaller government and for creating new jobs," Gingrich said.
Brumby is survived by his wife, Martha Lee, their five grown children and 10 grandchildren. A memorial service was scheduled Wednesday at the First United Methodist Church of Marietta.