By Fred Walker

Sports Media Canada

Member At Large

The world of sport in Canada has lost a great friend. Richard (Dick) Bradbeer died on Thursday, February 10, 2021 after a long illness. He was 87.

The name Bradbeer seemed synonymous with the product made by Labatt. In fact, one former media colleague labelled him as owning the best brew name in the industry.

A native of Niagara Falls, ON, he got his start in the beer business as a junior accountant for Carling Breweries in the early 1950s. After 10 years with Carling, Labatt came calling and Bradbeer’s career took off.

It was in his role as Director of Marketing for the company that sports media got to know him well.

One story back in the mid-1970s was when Toronto was vying with Montreal to host the Canadian Grand Prix. Dick got his friend, racing legend, Jackie Stewart to fly in for the day to support Labatt’s involvement in the process. He and Stewart continued to correspond regularly.

George Duffield, former CBC broadcaster, with long-time friend Dick Bradbeer at the 2017 Sports Media Canada Achievement Awards luncheon.

Dick was closely involved with many different high-profile sports in this country, from motor racing to curling, golf, the CFL and the Blue Jays. The list goes on.

Sporting events weren’t his only marketing talents. Labatt’s once lent him as an advisor to Robert Stanfield’s campaign run for Prime Minister.

Dick had a dry wit. He delighted in showing off a photo of a man – Richard Bradbeer – standing in front of the iconic St. Andrews Golf Club in Scotland. It wasn’t Dick, but the one-time captain of the PGA.

One of many bosses Dick had throughout his long and distinguished career with Labatt’s was Don McDougall, former president of the company who remembers working closely together in the mid-to-late 1960s.

“He took such joy in educating a rookie Maritimer to the ways of the brewing world in Toronto,” McDougall said.

Dick’s expense accounts had to be OK’d by McDougall.

“After months approving him entertaining PACR, he admitted under questioning that it was ‘Pissed Away Can’t Remember’,” McDougall said.

Dick was also responsible for production of all the company’s business cards.

“He kept a few in his wallet of people senior to him,” according to McDougall. “This way he could give himself a promotion when he deemed it helpful. After a few beers, he would start handing them out. Sometimes, Sales Manager. Sometimes Marketing Director and even when really celebrating he became a Vice-President. I learned of this trick when someone I never met pulled my business card from her purse!”

Dick’s quick wit was in evidence another time when former colleague and long-time close friend, Mike Hurst, recalled a gathering leading up to the 1970 Grey Cup game.

“Dick and three others were assigned the task of sorting out the many Grey Cup tickets for those on our guest list. There were refreshments involved and one in our group seemed well ahead of us. Dick would read the name from the list, hand the allocated number of tickets to another who would put them in an envelope ready for delivery. When a certain name came up for six tickets someone exclaimed “that guy is an a-hole and doesn’t deserve these” and proceeded to open the window and threw the tickets out.

As they wafted downward Dick’s comment was: “I guess he’s off the list.”

Among those who knew Dick well, the descriptions are all similar. He was such a lovely man, always happy, always so agreeable … a good friend … forever.

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A vital part of Sports Media Canada

The success of Sports Media Canada and its 24 Achievement Awards luncheons would not have been possible without Dick Bradbeer.

In 2010, Bradbeer was recognized by Sports Media Canada when he became the third recipient of the President’s Award for making a significant impact on Canadian sport.

“The Canadian sports world has lost a tremendous friend and ambassador with Dick’s passing,” said Steve McAllister, President of Sports Media Canada. “Over his professional career as a marketing and public relations specialist, and as a volunteer on the Conn Smythe Dinner Committee, the Mississauga Dinner Committee and our Achievement Awards Luncheon Committee, Dick poured his heart and soul into whatever he was doing, and always did it with great attention to detail, kindness and a quick wit. He was one of those rare people whom everyone liked.

“On behalf of Sports Media Canada, I offer my sincerest condolences to Dick’s children, Linda and Dave, their families and Dick’s many friends.”

John Iaboni, Executive Vice-President of Sports Media Canada, echoed McAllister’s comments.

“The world was a better place because of Dick – and the world has indeed lost one of the finest people who ever graced it,” said Iaboni. “I can’t tell you how much I depended on Dick during all these many years of our luncheon. I also am proud to say I knew him for 50 years and his effect on me and so many others is noteworthy.”