We live in a culture that fears death and seems to think that death is tragedy. When you really think about it, that’s a weird idea, which as much as says that life is a failure in that it ends.

Death is an ending, yes, but it is not a tragedy, just a natural culmination. However, still it is an ending, and there’s no talking it away.


I’m thinking these thoughts because my friend, publisher, and longtime partner in Hampton Roads, Bob Friedman, died on Monday the seventh, just a few weeks shy of his 77th birthday. He died of a relatively short illness which was apparently painless, not a bad way to go.

He leaves behind not only his beloved companion Beth Hines, and his four children, but friends too many to count, and a rich legacy of books.

Bob founded or co-founded no fewer than three publishing companies (The Donning Company in 1974, Hampton Roads Publishing Company in 1989, and Rainbow Ridge Books in 2009) and, in a career spanning more than 40 years, published more than 1,000 books.

Mary Summer Rain, Mary Elizabeth Marlow, Winter Robinson, Neale Donald Walsch, John Nelson, and so many others: Bob gave them their first chance. Without him, would they ever have found a sympathetic publisher? Without their books, would thousands of people have received the encouragement and inspiration they needed? And what of the people that these people may inspire and encourage in turn?

Certainly he changed my life! Changed, enriched, complicated, provoked, encouraged, facilitated…. Anything I accomplished as editor or author, I accomplished because Bob and I teamed up to start a publishing house. Anybody I encouraged came out of that base, which means it is a secondary effect of Bob’s life. You see the point, there’s no end to it.

For that matter, it was Bob’s idea that he and I do Gateway together in December, 1992, and put the cost on the company. The consequences that flowed from that decision make up an entirely different but equally important chain of influences.

There is no way to estimate this one man’s influence, because for one thing we will never see the end of it. Seems to me there’s an encouraging lesson there for all of us.



4 thoughts on “Bob

  1. Thanks for sharing this news. I had a couple of email conversations with him about a writing project a few years ago, and he was kind, clear, honest, and encouraging, something I didn’t forget. I like the way you’ve written about him here, showing the interconnections we all have and how the effects of our deaths will take a while to be felt. We’re a real part of what holds this world together, so the loss of one of us is real and something felt, and I think it’s good to acknowledge it, as you’ve done. Thanks.

  2. I am sorry to hear this news. I am grateful that he encouraged you……you encouraged me…….I will try my best to encourage others. And so, Bob lives on and on.
    Large hug,

  3. Thank you telling about your love for a close friend Bob Friedman
    (I have bought some of his books because of you).

    I`m to recall once upon a time when to study Edgar Cayce – and something what Mark Thurston told us back then, who did a online course with several persons(back in the late 1990s or early 2000). Never to forget what Mark Thurston told in the beginning: “The main goal to us are the responsibility in to make (each one of us in commoness) this world a better place to live.”

    Thanks a lot Frank.

  4. Good job, Bob! Mission accomplished. And thank you, Bob and Frank, for giving so many authors a place to publish their works. Many of these folks have touched my life through your efforts. I will hold Beth and family in my thoughts and prayers.

    I’m also grieving (and honoring) the life of Herb Kellerher, co-founder of Southwest Airlines, who passed this last weekend. (Sorry. This may be a little off topic for this group.) I’ve had the privilege to be part of the dream for 25+ years, helping a little airline grow into a force in its industry. Herb was truly an inspiring leader and a visionary, and I’m glad to have spoken to him on several occasions. He always called me by name, even when I had no name tag on. (How did he do that?!?) What a guy!

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