William J. Brehm Sr., whose newspaper company grew to more than 50 publications in seven states, died Oct. 4, 2015, at home in Poway after a long battle with cancer. He was 89.
Brehm began in newspapers as a “printer’s devil” at the Bell-Maywood Industrial Post in Los Angeles in 1946. He became a publisher in 1950 and president of McGiffin Newspaper Co., which had been owned by his father-in-law, Bill McGiffin, in 1960. Brehm and his wife Mona acquired California newspapers including the Los Banos Enterprise and Auburn Journal, adding them to the 17 weeklies and two dailies they owned in the Los Angeles area, and the Fort Madison (Iowa) Daily Democrat, where the company began in 1919. They renamed the company Brehm Communications Inc. in 1981 and bought and sold properties through seven states. Over his nearly 70 years in the business, Brehm’s company was involved in the ownership of more than 100 publications.
Today, San Diego-based BCI includes 50 publications, 40 websites and five printing facilities.
Brehm believed strongly that the foundation of a community newspaper was strong local news and commitment to the community, the company’s obituary said. His belief was the driving force behind his success. In 2011, he received the Dean S. Lesher Lifetime Achievement Award from Suburban Newspapers of America (now Local Media Association).
Bill Brehm Jr., president of Brehm Communications, said: “BCI is over 95 years young and now, as the third and fourth generations are in the business, and as my father and mother removed themselves from the day-to-day operations over the past several years, BCI has continued to stress the importance of good community journalism and the support of local businesses, the cornerstone of each community we serve.
“With the support of my family members and all employees of BCI, this dedication will continue into the future as part of the legacy of my father, who headed the company for the past 60 years. I know my father is proud of the many employees who have worked for, and dedicated their lives to, the service of their communities through their community newspaper.”
Rather than a memorial service, a celebration of life will be scheduled for a later date.