May 20, 2009 Arlington Arlington County Virginia, USA
Bill Brannigan, a native Long Islander and a former newspaper and television reporter who covered everything from the Vietnam War to a legendary boxing match, died on May 20 of pulmonary fibrosis. He was 73 and lived in Arlington, Va.
Brannigan was born in Mineola on Jan. 12, 1936, and grew up in East Rockaway. He left to attend Tufts University in Massachusetts, then entered the Navy, where he served for five years.
His daughter, Brigid Brannigan, said her father considered several different careers after the Navy, but realized journalism was the right fit.
"He loved travel. He loved telling stories," Brigid Brannigan said.
Bill Brannigan started out at the New York World-Telegram and Sun, but branched out to television, working for UPI Newsfilm and, later, ABC News.
Brannigan covered the civil rights struggles in the South, the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, and the "Rumble in the Jungle," the 1974 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire.
He opened the Nairobi bureau for ABC News, and later moved to Cairo to report from there.
Brannigan's niece and goddaughter, Katie Dodge, remembered receiving glamorous presents of wooden carvings and zebra-skin flip-flops from her well-traveled uncle.
Dodge said her uncle was a consummate storyteller, able to convey humor with just a gesture.
Brannigan went on to become a press officer for the World Bank, where he relished his contact with people from around the world.
After his retirement in the mid-1990s, Brannigan turned to acting in local Washington, D.C.-area theater companies.
"We used to laugh all the time, because the majority of his initial roles were Jewish grandfathers," Brigid Brannigan said. "Then he got to be an Italian grandfather."
His daughter said Brannigan had a full life, and seemed to grasp every minute of it.
"You really got a sense that he lived life the way he wanted to do it," she said.
In addition to Dodge, of Alexandria, Va., and daughter Brigid Brannigan of San Francisco, Bill Brannigan is survived by another daughter, Beth Brannigan of Lake Tahoe, Calif., a brother, Jim Brannigan of Augusta, Maine, and an extended family. He was predeceased by his wife, Rosalind.
A funeral Mass will be held at noon on June 26 at St. Rita's Catholic Church in Alexandria, Va., and a memorial service will be held on June 27 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Brannigan will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery.