A SON has paid tribute to the last long-term owner of the Bucks Herald – when it was a family business – after he lost his battle with cancer.
Brian de Fraine began working at the Herald in 1939 aged 16 and was managing director between 1964 and 1988.
During that time he acquired a number of titles for the group including the Bucks Advertiser and the Thame Gazette, and his son Paul de Fraine credited him with turning it from a ‘tin pot little paper’ to one which was ‘well respected’ and ‘way ahead of the competition’.
Paul, one of three sons who took over the company in 1988, said his father was ‘completely dedicated to the newspaper’.
He said: “He cared about the newspaper and was very passionate about it.
“Standards were very important to him and he thought if you let that go you may as well let it all go.
“He was very old school. He was kind, gentle and humorous, but a very determined person.”
Working up from the bottom and fighting for his country in North Africa and Malta during the Second World War, Mr de Fraine was central to the development of the Herald.
Paul said: “He worked in every department and his view was that if you didn’t know what was going on everywhere you didn’t know what was going on at all.
“His vision was always to use the latest technology to produce the best papers he could.
“We were one of the first local papers to have web offset and were way ahead in terms of technology.”
Mr de Fraine oversaw the sale to Emap in 1989, releasing a company owned by the de Fraine’s since 1872.
Paul said: “He was very upset about selling it but he could see in reality it was the right way to go.”
Mr de Fraine, a keen sailor, married twice, both times to women named Susan, had three children – Paul, John and Colin – two step-children, ten grandchildren, three step-grandchildren and one great grandchild.
He died aged 88 in his sleep on May 9 after being diagnosed with a combination of lung, stomach and liver cancer during Christmas 2011.
A service of remembrance is due to be held on Friday at 1pm at All Saints Church, Crudwell, Wiltshire, close to where Mr de Fraine lived.