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Thursday, Feb. 22
The Indiana Daily Student

Saying goodbye to IDS supervisor Brian Maibaum

Empty. Despite it being our first night in the Indiana Daily Student newsroom in almost a week, despite the extra people who were usually not there on a Sunday, that’s how it felt without Brian Maibaum, our night supervisor: empty.

Every time the door opened, every time we walked over to look at a page design, we expected Brian to be there. Because he always was. And we never thanked him enough for it.

The news hit hard Sunday when we learned that Brian passed away during Thanksgiving break. He had been at the IDS for about four years, advising the staff as we designed the newspaper and making sure everything was done and sent to the printer.

“Backshop Brian,” as we all called him, was a father figure, always calm and knowledgeable. Subtly, he made a difference and taught us something everyday.

On the surface, the IDS is a college newspaper. But to us — we’ve spent countless hours in the newsroom creating a family. It’s a family that supports each other’s passions and remains together through the good times and the bad.

Every night, Brian was there for whatever the day had thrown at us. He was there to make the comics page and catch typos. To help with headlines and spacing. To chat on a smoke break. To put up with our silly YouTube videos, radio stations and homework as we stayed in the newsroom until the early morning hours.

Even though Brian had years of experience on each one of us, he rarely voiced his opinion without being asked. When he did make suggestions or offer ideas, it was worth listening. Brian was always conscious of social connections that could be made and the things we didn’t see in our own work.

He also had a special ability to make each one of us feel welcome and important. Every designer and editor knew they could turn to Brian for help. When the design staff was feeling overwhelmed, he offered to teach new staffers who had no experience. The staff knew we could stop and chat with Brian, who offered a friendly “hello” as we came and went from the building.

Brian was the epitome of leading by example. He was always there to help and support. He recently told me he stayed calm simply because freaking out on deadline does no good. He was willing to stay past deadline on a rough night or hold the newspaper just in case the late-breaking news should need to go in print. Compliments from Brian were flattering and always genuine.

We got through Sunday by trying to do what we saw him do every night. We checked the details on finished pages, saying “That’s what Brian did.” And we’ll be doing that for the rest of the year. It won’t be easy to finish the semester or start the next one without him.

Losing a family member is never easy. It will be a while before we remember he’s not just on a smoke break or running errands, and we’ll miss the wit and good nature he brought every night. But we’ll never forget the things Brian taught us.

Brian, thank you for everything. We’ll miss you greatly.

­— mslaby@indiana.edu

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