Senior Reporter Bill Bregar died April 5 of an apparent heart attack. He covered the industry for more than 31 years. We asked his colleagues, past and present, to share their thoughts.
Former staff reporter
A light has gone out in journalism.
Bill Bregar's reputation is well-cemented in the plastics industry he covered, and loved to cover, for the past three decades.
Bill's level of interest and technical knowledge about the business, in general, and machinery, in particular, was unsurpassed.
In emailing with a colleague, I wrote this: "Bregar was Bregar, one of a kind. Infuriating, passionate, a reporter's reporter. And under all that a nice guy."
Bill had a passion for journalism that was unsurpassed. But he wasn't only a reporter. He loved to write letters to the editor to local newspapers on issues he felt strongly about. He loved to read the printed page. In an age of email, he would send off copies of articles through the regular mail that caught his eye.
A newsroom can be full of characters, and Bill certainly was at the top of that category. Shirt sometimes rumpled and tie askew after a long day of work, hard-charging when necessary, witty and funny, insightful and sincere and irreverent all at the same time.
But, make no mistake, Bill was a pro through and through as a reporter. His analytical expertise also shined bright when writing columns for Plastics News, offering particularly keen insight while dissecting the issue of the day.
Bill had a strong interest in the history of plastics and the movers and shakers who helped shape the industry. He saw it as his duty to pay respects to those in the industry who passed by writing their obituaries for Plastics News.
And now it's time to do the same for Bill.
Former assistant managing editor
Bill and I started at Plastics News on the same day, Feb. 13, 1989, as the publication was launching. We were cube-mates for a time, sharing a computer and jockeying for desk space. Bill had a never-ending need for more desk space. He was always up for a beer or a ballgame, and back then, it was often with co-worker and friend Bruce Vernyi, who passed away in September. Too young. Too soon.
Bill liked graphic novels and, unlike many people these days, didn't mind at all if you called them comic books. Bill was genuine. It's somewhat comforting to think of his words from a recent column, to know that he lived this way: "The only way forward is to live your life. Look at each day you're alive as a gift and focus just on that day."
Former assistant managing editor and video editor
Bill had an amazing ability to connect with people. It's why he was a great reporter, and why he was an excellent coworker and friend.
I'm certain there are hundreds of people in the industry chuckling while remembering their first encounter with him. His unique personality was impossible to forget.
I was lucky enough to take a number of reporting trips with Bill. And people were drawn to him. It didn't matter if we were in Erie, Pa.; Bartlesville, Okla.; or somewhere in between, we were always greeted the same way: Everyone was so excited to see him.
We would pop in unannounced at a processor while on a road trip, and executives would stop what they were doing and suggest we go to lunch. I was there to shoot video while he conducted his interviews for the print edition. Watching him work, it became clear why people were so drawn to him. He would spend more time talking to the person about things not related to the plastics industry than he would about the subject at hand.
He really got to know people in a way few journalists do. People in the industry weren't just sources to him; they were his friends, too.
I'll be forever grateful that he took the time to connect with me, too.