Remembering Brian

As a Husband

Brian was the sweetest, funniest, most handsome man I have ever met. Right from our very first date I marveled at the luck I felt to meet someone with whom I shared the same humor, outlook on life, goals and chemistry. Falling in love with Brian was the most natural process in the world to me and I still can't believe he felt the same. A gentleman through-and-through, Brian surprised me every day of our 9+ years together with his kindness, thoughtfulness and with endless quiet gestures of love. I am so grateful for the years we spent together and I am devastated by the loss of the decades we should have left. I will miss his hugs, his smiles (with or without teeth), his laugh, his scent, his annoyed glances, his famous one-liners, his voice and his secret silliness. I am honored to have been loved by him and I am honored to be his wife.

- Emily Rich, Brian's Wife

As a Father

Our miracle baby was born in September 2022 and she was her daddy's shining light from the moment of her birth. While mom recovered from a difficult labor, Brian had Edith all to himself for the first several hours of her life and their bond was cemented immediately. The last three months of Brian's life produced the biggest smiles I had ever seen, the greatest joy and the biggest challenges. He handled every curveball thrown by new parenthood with grace, patience, love and strength. Edith's happiest place was on his chest and her second was in his arms. While Edith will not remember Brian's presence it is my most sincere hope that she will never feel his loss. She will be raised surrounded by family and friends who knew her daddy best and who will shower her with love and guidance in Brian's honor.

-Emily, Edith's Mom

As a Brother

Brian was always there. Being the youngest I have never experienced a time without him. I remember him always helping me even if it was sorting and assembling girl scout cookie orders. He has always been a man of few words, but if he was talking you better stop and listen. It was either really insightful or hilarious. As we got older I learned behind his laid back appearance he was always thinking of others and remembering even the smallest details that matter to others. My favorite memories from our childhood are playing video games together and watching him play hockey. Sports are not my thing but because of his love of hockey it is the one sport I enjoy. I will miss him so much, especially his humor, his laugh, his presence, and his proud daddy smile.

-Amy Vosmek, Brian's Sister

As a Son

Spoken by Tim, Brian's Dad, at Brian and Emily's rehearsal dinner:

Family, friends and especially (Emily and Brian).

We remember when (Brian) was born. We were so proud to be the father and mother of that baby boy. We remember when (Brian) became an Eagle Scout. We were so proud to be the father and mother of that teenage boy. Today, we are proud to be the father and mother of the man we see here, starting a family of his own and setting out on a great adventure with his beautiful fiancée (Emily).

Brian has always been on the quiet side (at least around us). We think he may have gotten some of that from his grandmother Marguerite. And as you can see, he did survive falling off the bar stool while playing with hot wheels when he was little.

Brian, you and David were always close growing up. Choosing your brother David as your best man really touches your mom and my hearts, that you remained best of friend’s not just brothers.

(Emily), it has been a pleasure getting to know you over these last couple of years and I know that Brian knows how lucky he is to have you. We are thrilled to welcome you into our family. Tomorrow is truly a joyous day!

As you begin your life together as a married couple, we wonder if there is anything we can say to you that will be of value. Most of life is about learning along the way, through the experience of living. Instead of offering advice today, we will make a request of you. We will ask you, (Emily and Brian), to just keep loving each other. Today that is very easy for you and maybe it is hard to imagine otherwise but sometimes life does get busy and difficult and we can get distracted from what is really important.

You have decided that your love for each other is important enough to make a lifetime commitment. Always remember that, even in the difficult times. Simply keep loving each other and your life will fall into place beautifully.

Family and friends, let's raise a glass and toast to a lifetime of love and happiness for (Emily and Brian)!

As a Colleague

As a freelance editor at the talk show Windy City Live, Brian was often stuck in the windowless edit bay (the size of a modest walk-in closet) located outside the main office hub. So, for a while we didn't know each other except in passing, until our more meaningful interactions when we filmed shoots together. The drives to and from a shoot location are usually when friendships are formed between shooters and reporters. Sometimes the drives could be a lengthy distance, and that's when I discovered that the seemingly quiet, big guy editor/shooter was chatty, funny and insightful.

On one of these drives back to the station, Brian confided to a producer and me that he planned to propose to his girlfriend. We'd heard a lot about Emily, how they just "clicked," and the hours had melted away on their first date. The producer and I squealed with delight, and I vividly recall that Brian beamed with pride. Before Brian met Emily, I loved to goad him on his tales of online dating – it was unexpected to think about this "shy guy" on all of these online dates, and he knew how to tell a story and keep a rapt audience. Thank goodness he didn't give up, as it was impossible to miss how crazy he was about Emily and how clear it was to him that she was "the one."

There was a surprisingly old fashioned romantic idealism about him when it came to Emily. He was incredibly devoted to not only her, but making her dreams of having a beautiful home and family a reality. He wanted to do the best for her, in both significant and seemingly inconsequential ways, like telling me he wanted to make more money, or keep the car clean for her. Because Emily inspired him, Brian aspired for more. I say “surprisingly” sentimental, because his wit was often dry and sarcastic, and his observations had a heavy dose of realism. His sense of humor was quick and could be devilish, because he was a smart guy. He had a lot of layers, like most intelligent people do, and I only got to see a few of them, and in the period of his life when he was fully an adult – when you have to laugh to keep from crying sometimes. And he got that duality. He was a great listener and a loyal friend, with a real empathy for others. He understood the complexities of life and how it can border on the absurd and tragic – something you face when you cover hard news in Chicago.

During the year we worked together at the Sun-Times, we logged long hours in the car often as a work duo. He was responsible for driving, shooting, lighting, sound and later, editing. It was a ton of equipment to lug in and out of a car to multiple locations in a day; but he didn't skimp on the toys, often buying new tech to level up the look of our video stories. I remember him slipping and sliding in a surprise snowfall with a tripod and camera bag precariously balanced on his shoulders in Chinatown, wondering when he'd finally quit on me. It was grueling work, as we'd hit half a dozen locations covering neighborhoods in a series called "The Grid." But he was unflappable.

Some of the series' installments would be 20 minutes long because I had to include “just one more place,” and I couldn't figure out how to cover it all. (For perspective, the longest type of storytelling in television newscasts – called a package – is 2 minutes.) He was infinitely patient. After shooting, he'd have to edit and he didn't want help with writing or piecing the story together. He did it all, and he cared immensely about his work, down to fussing with meticulous details and curating the music to match. He cared deeply about the stories we told and about the people who owned them... often later mentioning that he couldn't figure out what to cut from an interview because the interviewee was just too good. The truth is, Brian was the lynchpin and real star of the story.

All of this I’m sharing to showcase the great pride, care and dedication Brian put into his work. He was talented and creative, especially when it came to shooting stories about food. He'd capture the smoke, sizzle, and the sharp crack of a chop, both visually and through audio so that all of the viewers’ senses were engaged. He'd bring movement to still objects by suggesting a chef's gestures or by approaching a static table from inventive angles. The footage felt tangible, palpable, alive, which made watching his pieces a mouthwatering experience. My favorite features in the course of my career – where the story was executed seamlessly and I felt utilized the best, yes, I mean he made me look good – were shot and edited by him.

And he never complained. He'd grumble about other drivers (a bit of repressed road rage) and bad equipment (usually malfunctioning wireless mics, dead batteries and changing lenses at the most inopportune moment), but never about the work. He probably hated that I'd request one more stop or interview, but he swallowed any gripes and did it.

At the close of one of these long shoot days, outside of a fried shrimp restaurant on the far South Side, I saw the friendliest cat in the parking lot. The gray cat would approach customers at their vehicles in what was a sizable parking lot next to a busy Chicago thoroughfare. After inquiring with the employees, we were told the cat had been there for months and subsisted off fried shrimp. I determined the cat needed to be rescued and Brian didn't protest. At the time Brian was driving his wife's car, and luckily for us there was an empty paper ream box we placed the cat in... and off we went to a shelter that happened to be nearby. When we pulled up it felt like a scene from a horror movie, cracked concrete, a facade accentuated with metal gates and security bars, a faded sign... and it only got worse inside where we were greeted by an exhausted worker, who seemed like a shell of her former self, that said in a detached, wearisome tone that "pretty much all the animals were headed for euthanasia." Brian agreed we had to drop this cat off at another shelter and was kind enough to drive across town. He just said, "Emily would not want a cat in her car." Years later, Emily would tell me Brian was allergic to cats, something he never mentioned. I've attached photos of the cat Brian rescued that night on November 16, 2018. I called later and confirmed, she was pulled from the shelter and adopted out.

I have missed our car rides. In addition to being a great listener, Brian could be talkative, often getting passionate about certain topics like craft beer, sports, a great bbq, stories about his family and Emily. He'd rail about some sort of injustice he'd witnessed or read about. He was authentic. There weren't different versions of himself. You know how the majority of us present a different version of ourselves for the boss, the family or for different groups? Not Brian, he was always true to who he was.

I'm sad to have missed knowing Brian in his greatest role as father to Edith Mae. It's an unspeakably profound loss for his daughter and for Emily. But I know that Brian's legacy of being a wonderful, kind, loyal, smart, talented, dedicated person passes on to her.