James Brady dies at 73

Former White House press secretary was advocate of gun control
August 4, 2014
James Brady gives a thumbs up in this 2009 photo at the annual Beebe Ball, held at Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. He is accompanied by his wife, Sarah Brady. SOURCE FILE

Former White House Press Secretary James Brady, who made his home in Dewey Beach, died Aug. 4 at the age of 73.

A statement from Brady’s family to CBS News said, "We are heartbroken to share the news that our beloved Jim 'Bear' Brady has passed away after a series of health issues.”

Brady was paralyzed after being shot when John Hinkley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan in 1981. Brady and his wife, Sarah, became staunch advocates for gun control, with Jim Brady working from his wheelchair for passage of legislation that became known as the Brady Bill, instituting background checks for gun purchases. The Brady Bill was signed into law in 1993.

"Jim touched the lives of so many and has been a wonderful husband, father, friend and role model," the statement said. "We are enormously proud of Jim's remarkable accomplishments – before he was shot on the fateful day in 1981 while serving at the side of President Ronald Reagan and in the days, months and years that followed.”

The Bradys for many years made their home on East Lake Drive just outside Rehoboth Beach and were active members of the Cape Region community.

"Jim Brady's zest for life was apparent to all who knew him, and despite his injuries and the pain he endured every day, he used his humor, wit and charm to bring smiles to others and make the world a better place," the family’s statement said.

Gov. Jack Markell first met Brady in 1979 when Markell was an intern with Sen. William Roth's office.

"Jim was a wonderful person with a great sense of humor. Jim’s grit and determination were always evident. This is a difficult loss, but those close to him can take solace in knowing the legacy he built through his advocacy work will have a lasting impact on our country and will surely inspire future generations,” Markell said in a statement.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement, “I am deeply proud to have called Jim Brady a friend. He will be missed dearly by everyone at our organization, which proudly bears his name, and by a nation that has been made better by his life. Jim will always remain one of our greatest inspirations as this organization continues to lead the fight for a safer America.”