Saying farewell to a cherished colleague

Readers should know the name ‘Brett Spearing.’ Without him, this publishing company wouldn’t be where it is today—nor anywhere close.

I called him Superman. He’d swat me away and shrug off that nickname, but it was true.

Brett Spearing was my right-hand man at work and jumped in to save me professionally on countless occasions with an ever-present smile on his face and a seemingly endless reserve of patience. If you knew Brett, you knew he never said no. Anything was fixable and doable.

He armed himself with that spirit in the face of his chronic lymphocytic leukemia diagnosis. He passed away on Jan. 14. He was 46.

Although the collective Ragan Communications family carries a heavy heart, it also beats with immense gratitude for having known and worked alongside him. Our office will close Thursday, Jan. 19, in memoriam.

Many readers may not recognize his name. But what you should know, dear readers, is that without him, you wouldn’t be reading this article, getting our daily headlines or visiting our websites. Without him, our online presence wouldn’t exist.

As our CEO Mark Ragan said:

Brett worked for Ragan for more than two decades and was one of the most beloved employees in the 50-year history of the company. He was also one of the most effective.

Brett ushered our company into the digital age. Without his steady leadership, and without his talent for matching Ragan’s services to the right technology, the company could never have survived.

Everything you see online carrying the Ragan name was a Brett Spearing Production.

That’s no exaggeration.

I oversaw the editorial department, and Brett ran IT. We ground out long hours, days and weeks launching Ragan.com, PR Daily and, in later years, HealthCareCommunication.com. Teaching HTML code to an English major like me was no easy feat, but he did, and with a grin on his face.

He loved this company and solved many a crisis during his career. He was everyone’s go-to guy.

As Mark said:

He was a colleague who would shoulder any burden. If a fellow employee fell ill, or if a job needed to be done and there was no one around to do it, Brett was invariably the guy who stepped in.

He was an eternal optimist and fighter at heart. That didn’t waver when faced with cancer. He fought like hell.

Here’s what he wrote prior to his stem-cell transplant a year ago:

This is hard, but being hard doesn’t mean it should be overwhelming and terrifying. The cancer left unchecked or untreated is terrifying and the result dire. I tend to approach this the way I do many things, straight forward, armed with information that helps me make informed decisions and a positive outlook. With those three things I have found that you end up with the best chance for success at the end of the day. You also end the day in a positive light, which is always good.

I joked that if I knew how eloquent a writer he was, he would have been writing for the websites all these years. We are thankful to his wife, Sarah, for keeping us informed on his CaringBridge page. He was in no better hands than hers.

Brett’s mark is left in everything we do at Ragan. We will always be indebted to him and all he gave us. It was an honor to call him a colleague and friend. His spirit and essence will undoubtedly live on in his two children, who were the apple of his eye.

We will miss you, Brett. We will toast to you as we tell tales of crazy former co-workers and late-night dance parties—he was always the last man standing—just as you would have wanted us to.

I’ll close with Brett’s wise advice for us all:

If I can ask one thing it’s that you try to worry or stress a little less and enjoy as many of the little wonderful things that present themselves to you each day. Go out and enjoy life, it’s fleeting.

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