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article imageFormer White House press secretary James Brady dies at 73

By Nathan Salant     Aug 4, 2014 in Politics
Alexandria - Former White House Press Secretary James Brady, who was severely injured in an assassination attempt on US President Ronald Reagan in 1981, died Monday at a retirement home in Virginia, a family spokesman announced.
He was 73.
Brady, who was known for his affable nature as well as his expert command of national issues, was hospitalized for months after the shooting and never fully recovered from the serious injuries he suffered in the attack.
Reagan and two other wounded members of the presidential entourage managed to recover from the shooting, which occurred two months after Reagan's inauguration.
But Brady, who was 40 at the time of the shooting, was partially paralyzed from his injuries and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Brady and his wife, Sarah, became prominent campaigners for gun control and disabled rights, and a bill he successfully championed to require a waiting period for gun purchases and a background check for gun buyers became known as the Brady Bill.
"There are few Americans in history who are as directly responsible for saving as many lives as Jim," Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told the Reuters news service.
"He leaves the kind of legacy that ... certainly this press secretary and all future press secretaries will aspire to live up to," current White House press secretary Josh Earnest said at Monday morning's press briefing.
The Reagan presidency was only two months old in 1981 when John Hinckley Jr. opened fire outside the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington DC, striking Reagan, Brady, a US Secret Service member and a local police officer.
Brady's injuries were so severe that one TV network mistakenly reported that he had died, Reuters said.
But Brady made a long and grueling recovery over the next few months and managed to leave the hospital after several months, but was unable to return to his job even though he remained on the White House payroll as press secretary until Reagan left office in 1989.
The White House press room was renamed in his honor and he attended a ceremony there in 2006.
"Jim was the personification of courage and perseverance," Reagan's widow, Nancy Reagan [Unlink], said in a written statement.
Brady was awarded a Medal of Freedom by Reagan's successor, President Bill Clinton [Unlink], in 1996.
"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 statement said.
Brady was born in Centralia, Illinois, in 1940 and worked in public relations before moving to Washington in 1973 and working for three federal agencies, including the Defense Department.
He was picked for Reagan's staff after working as press secretary for former Texas Gov. John Connally during the 1980 campaign for the Republican Party presidential nomination.
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