During the harsh January of 1982, many houses in South Wales were snowed in and roads were impassable. But South Wales Echo editor Geoffrey Rich OBE decided to walk the several miles from his home rather than miss a day’s work – passing the houses of reporters who said they couldn’t get to work because of the weather.
This is just one of many stories about Rich, the second-longest serving editor in the newspaper’s history, who died on 16 January, aged 76, at the Princess of Wales Hospital, Bridgend.
Friends, former colleagues and Welsh Secretary Rhodri Morgan MP led tributes to a man who became synonymous with Cardiff and South Wales. Morgan said: ‘If you cut him open, the words ‘South Wales Echo’ would run through his entire body like a stick of Barry Island Rock. He loved his newspaper and all of its catchment area – Cardiff, the Vale and the Valleys that flow down into Cardiff.’Rich started his journalistic career with the Echo as a copy boy in 1946 and worked his way up to become editor in 1971. He retired from the paper on 31 December 1990, aged 60. Robin Fletcher, Echo editor from 1996 to 2001, said Rich was nothing short of a legend in Welsh journalism. He said: ‘He edited the Echo through an incredible time in Welsh life, ensuring his paper had its finger on the pulse of everything from the golden age of rugby to the miners’ strike. ‘In particular, Geoff used the power of the Echo to influence important issues such as the devolution vote in 1979 and the redevelopment of Cardiff Bay.’Alan Edmunds, editor of The Western Mail, who worked on the Echo newsdesk under Rich’s editorship, said: ‘He was one of the great Welsh editors of the old school. ‘He gave very strong leadership and never left you in any doubt where you stood. He loved the Echo and was passionate about Cardiff and South Wales. There was so much a young journalist could learn from him.’Alastair Milburn, editor of the paper from 2002 to 2004, said: ‘The fact that Geoff was editor for longer than the five editors who succeeded him put together, shows what a great man he was.’He is survived by daughters Lesley and Ceri, son Timothy and wife Sybil.