, Salem, MA

Local News

May 7, 2012

'He was fully Paul Brailsford to the end'

Ipswich sailor remembered as activist, difference-maker

IPSWICH — Paul Brailsford did a lot of living in his 96 years.

Described by his daughter, Robin Brailsford, as a "force of nature," he sailed the world as a merchant mariner and worked to make a difference, both as an anti-nuclear and peace activist and in business, introducing new innovations to the fishing industry.

Brailsford passed away April 28 and will be remembered in a 10 a.m. celebration Saturday, May 12, at Northshore Unitarian Universalist Church in Danvers, where he was a longtime member.

"He was a very gregarious person," Robin said of her father. "... He was often like a bull in a china shop, (but) he never meant to be anything but himself."

Brailsford "always put himself in the middle of things," Robin said.

He penned a near-constant stream of letters to the editor at The Salem News, often on shipping, political and environmental issues.

"He was always ahead of his time," Robin said. "He saw where things (in politics and culture) were going, was alarmed by things before other people."

Brailsford was an active leader in several local peace organizations, including a local chapter of Veterans for Peace. In the 1990s, he journeyed to Russia and Cuba as part of peace delegations.

After a rocky childhood, "he didn't understand much about how to do family," she said. But he found a niche — and a second family — through his peace activism.

Robin said her father used his tough upbringing as a positive.

"(He lived to) keep moving forward," she said, "express yourself, don't dwell on the past. Find your passion and pursue it."

Brailsford was born in London in 1915 and left England at age 16. He was a master mariner, a certification that meant he could captain any vessel.

He commanded banana ships, tankers and cruise ships around the world; in 1943, he was part of a World War II convoy to supply allied forces with fuel to invade the Philippines.

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