Gentleman of news: tributes for Brian O’Flaherty

Daily Liberal editor Brian O'Flaherty.

Daily Liberal editor Brian O'Flaherty.

COLLEAGUES, friends and family have paid tribute to Daily Liberal editor Brian O’Flaherty who died unexpectedly on Friday night at his Dubbo home.

Mr O’Flaherty, 61, is survived by his wife Adrienne and twin daughters Toni and Liv.

Having led the Daily Liberal team since 2012, Mr O’Flaherty’s death has shocked the newsroom and the wider Dubbo community.

Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood said Mr O’Flaherty was a passionate local newsman and talented editor.

“He cared deeply for the Daily Liberal, its staff and the Dubbo community,” Mr Hywood said. “Our thoughts are with his family, loved ones and colleagues. He will be missed.”

The O’Flaherty family described their husband and father as adored and admired.

“Unassuming, giving and quiet, he was kind, softly spoken and compassionate,” Adrienne, Toni and Liv said.

“Brian’s compassionate soul lives on in our memories. One of the finest men you will have ever met.”

Writing and newspapers came naturally to him, they said.

“A professional to his fingertips, newspapers were his way of life and the ink flowed through his veins.

“We are deeply saddened and will miss him every day for the rest of our lives.”

Rod Quinn, editorial director of Fairfax’s regional publishing business Australian Community Media (ACM), said Mr O’Flaherty’s extensive experience as a journalist and editor, including in South Africa and Fiji, gave him a special understanding of the role of a local newspaper in advocating for its community.

“Brian was dedicated to the cause of journalism and his care and diligence as an editor made him an excellent role model for the journalists he led,” Mr Quinn said.

Former ACM group managing editor for western NSW Tony Rhead described him as “a true newspaper man, but he was also a great family man”.

“Brian had the driest sense of humour of just about anyone I have ever known,” Mr Rhead said.

“He would relate tales about  his adopted home ‘Dubvegas’ without a hint of irony and often it was only when he had finished you would realise what a soft spot he had for the city it was his job to report on.”

Mr O’Flaherty had edited the Daily Liberal and satellite mastheads at Narromine, Nyngan and Wellington “with a measured calmness and slowness of speech which was legendary”.

“I never heard him raise his voice, except in defence of his staff, who I know will be missing his steady hand in the newsroom terribly today,” Mr Rhead said.

“His family has lost a loving husband and father and Dubbo has lost a tireless advocate and thoroughly decent man.”

Former Wellington Times editor Farren Hotham mourned the loss of a “decent, honourable gentleman”.

“He was a champion of family, proud of those he mentored and worked with at Dubbo, Wellington, Narromine and Nyngan and backed all to be the best they could be,” Mr Hotham said in a touching tribute posted on Facebook.

“His experience was amazing, his stories always a laugh and his people skills fair-minded and devoted. We will miss him deeply, the stories in heaven will be just as good for this decent man of the world.”

Former Dubbo City Council mayor Mathew Dickerson also took to social media to express his condolences.

“He (Brian) … was a great advocate for regional NSW and a valuable employee for Fairfax,” Mr Dickerson said.

“I had a lot of time and respect for Brian's experience and contribution to our community. My thoughts are with his family.”

Funeral service details will be shared later in the week.