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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Record-Courier publisher turns 90

Record-Courier publisher turns 90

Byron Brinton, longtime publisher of The Record-Courier, celebrated his 90th birthday with a public party Monday. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins).
Byron Brinton, longtime publisher of The Record-Courier, celebrated his 90th birthday with a public party Monday. (Baker City Herald/S. John Collins).

By MIKE FERGUSON

Of the Baker City Herald

That boldface type you see at the beginning of a newspaper story is called a byline. So it figures that a man named By Brinton ought to have selected the newspaper business as a way to dedicate what turned out to be a very long career.

And when you factor in that he was born 90 years ago Monday about 10 feet away from a printing press in Fessenden, N.D., well, printers ink must flow through the mans veins.

A large crowd of well-wishers turned out Friday at the Main Street office of the Record-Courier, the weekly newspaper that Brinton began editing out of college in 1934 and loves to this very day. Elected officials and everyday readers stopped by to pay their respects to the man who not only built a newspaper, but, together with his late wife Roberta, was active in the initial development of the Anthony Lakes area as far back as the mid 1930s.

Brinton also helped build the Sumpter Valley Railroad and served for a time on the state Water Resources Board, where he worked to make sure the high dam option won the day at Hells Canyon Dam. He also put in 25 years on the advisory board for the Bonneville Power Administration.

From the newspaper that gives its readers their weekly advantage to the building of the regions premier wintertime recreational spot, Brintons mark on the valley is as remarkable as the extra-wide newsprint on which his paper is printed.

For his birthday celebration, Brinton was decked out in a tie and hat, fashion accessories hes worn since he was in high school. Brinton didnt disappoint the steady stream of visitors, swapping stories and accepting congratulations while people helped him and the staff of the Record-Courier devour a large birthday cake.

This celebration isnt just for me, Brinton said with a wink Friday minutes after thousands of residents had lined Main Street to witness the Olympic Torch as it passed through Baker City. But it happens to be my birthday (celebration) today.

Hes just been a dedicated newsman, and thats the reason for his success, said the newspapers current editor and Bys son Ron Brinton. Even today, he will come in every Thursday, sit in his chair and mark up the newspaper, telling us what weve done wrong.

A newspapers responsibility

For his part, By Brinton who still walks the six blocks from his home to the newspaper office says during all his years in the newspaper and printing business, he always felt a responsibility toward his community.

The one thing I know is that you feel a responsibility all the time not for yourself, but for the community, he said. A newspaper shouldnt do anything else.

Thats readily apparent in his approach to reporting events occurring all around the county, his son the editor says. The Record-Courier has correspondents called stringers in newspaper parlance in virtually every town in Baker County, large and small. They report on everything from city events to a towns social scene.

By Brinton learned the business by growing up in it. As a boy he covered everything from tornadoes to salmon runs in newspapers his father, C.M. Brinton, owned in Fessenden; Browning, Mt.; (on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation, where he remembers having precious Indian friends in school and receiving superb treatment at an Indian hospital) and Marcus, Wash. His mother, Elizabeth, was a wonderful typesetter, he recalls, and she taught him that ancient art, a skill that is practically lost on modern news gatherers.

It was fun to learn the business, as a child, he said, because often it followed his family home at night.

Our interest in public good, resources and political issues began early, he recalled. I recall sitting beside North Dakota Gov. Fraser at dinner at our modest North Dakota home before his long U.S. Senate career. Contacts with Northwest Congressional leaders on resource issues date back to 1924.

C.M. bought the Haines Record and North Powder News in 1928, combining them in 1934 so that all the print work could be done out of one building the one still in use, at 1718 Main Street in Baker City.

Publishing the newspaper during the Second World War was even harder than shepherding it through the Great Depression, Brinton wrote in a 1992 remembrance in the Record-Courier. Thats because the war effort took his four older brothers and sister away from the business. Eventually By enlisted, too, saying he was no use to the Record-Courier and father all this time.

After the war, By returned to run the family business. In his memoir he said hes proud to have brought to Baker City the first and only metropolitan newspaper press equipment and up-to-date laser typography. He also notes the R-C, as it is fondly called, was the first anywhere to reject tobacco and liquor advertising. We appreciate being able to say we continue with the largest circulation of any Baker newspaper in history.

As he watched people pay their respects Friday, Ron said that its the sum of a lifetime of work that will tell his fathers life story best.

When people think of him, they think of a dedicated man whos had nothing else in mind but the betterment of his community, he said.

 
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