More than 500 mourners remembered Barry Bingham Jr.’s commitment to journalism, the arts and his family during his funeral service on Thursday.
Bingham, who guided The Courier-Journal and Louisville Times to three Pulitzers before family disagreements led to the papers’ sale in 1986, died Monday at age 72. He represented the third generation of his family to run the newspapers, and was editor and publisher from 1971 to 1986. The Louisville Times, an afternoon publication, was dissolved in 1987.
During the ceremony at Louisville’s Christ Cathedral Church, the Rev. Alfred R. Shands thanked Bingham for his efforts in fighting for the truth.
“Barry kept the flame alive in this community, the flame of truth,” Shands said.
Shands remembered Bingham as a “fierce proponent of justice for blacks and women” who was “attacked in the streets of Louisville for support of busing” and thanked him for “fighting for causes and slaying dragons” when many people were “wishing you would just shut up.”
Many of Bingham’s former employees from clerks to editors attended the ceremony, along with family and friends and the two publishers who succeeded him, George Gill and Ed Manassah. Former Louisville mayors Dr. Harvey Sloane and Dave Armstrong also were in attendance.
Shands said Bingham “delivered the goods: He was what he said.”
He said Bingham “mattered to thousands whom he never knew, for his was a very public life which affected many he would never ever see face to face.”
Shands read a letter that legendary CBS News reporter Edward R. Murrow wrote to Bingham’s father in 1959 about his son, who was about to go to work at the network.
“Dear Barry,” the letter to Barry Bingham Sr. began. “If you and your wife are not inordinately proud of your son, I shall take steps to excommunicate you. It is a long time since I have had a young man sit across my desk and talk such good sense while looking me squarely in the eye.”
Bingham was buried during a private ceremony after the funeral service.