Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bill Brannigan Journalist, Press Officer

Bill Brannigan, 73, a journalist and World Bank press officer who became an actor in retirement, died May 20 at George Washington University Hospital of acute idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. He was an Arlington County resident.

Mr. Brannigan's journalism career began at the old New York World-Telegram and Sun in 1962. He also worked for NBC News and UPI Newsfilm before joining ABC News in 1965. As an ABC correspondent and bureau chief, he opened news bureaus in Nairobi and Cairo and served in the network's New York, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv news bureaus. He was the Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in 1969-70.

He covered aspects of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. He reported on the 1968 Tet offensive. He reported from Egypt during the 1973 Arab-Israeli conflict and from Angola during that country's long civil war.

After leaving ABC News, he was a news manager at Bank of America headquarters in San Francisco. In 1982, he joined the World Bank's press office, where he served for 15 years.

As a retirement gift in 1997, his wife signed him up for acting lessons, and Mr. Brannigan thrived onstage. He performed in 22 area productions, both dramas and musicals. In 2001, a Washington Post reviewer lauded his performance as a hapless bad guy in a re-creation of the old radio staple "The Shadow" at Alexandria's Port City Playhouse.

William Anthony Brannigan was born in Oceanside, N.Y., and grew up in East Rockaway, N.Y. He graduated from Tufts University in 1957 and served in the Navy for five years before entering journalism.

He was a member of the National Press Club, the Overseas Press Club and Sigma Delta Chi, also known as the Society of Professional Journalists. He served as a lector at St. Rita's Catholic Church in Alexandria for more than 20 years and was a volunteer with Travelers Aid at Reagan National Airport.

His wife, Rosalind Prophet Brannigan, died in 2005.

Survivors include two daughters, Beth Brannigan of Lake Tahoe, Calif., and Brigid Brannigan of San Francisco.

-- Joe Holley

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