Earl Winfrey Brian, Jr. (born 1942)

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Earl Winfrey Brian, Jr.

(circa 1974)

© Daily Titan

Earl Winfrey Brian, Jr. (born 1942) is an American businessman who served as Director of California's Department of Health Care Services, and then as Secretary of California's Agency for Health and Welfare under Governor Ronald Reagan. Following an unsuccessful run for the U. S. Senate in 1974, Brian headed several technology based firms during the 1970s and 80s. In 1991 however, Infotechnology, the venture capital firm he headed, filed for bankruptcy. Brian was later charged with conspiring to cover up the firm's financial difficulties and sentenced to four years in prison. Dr. Brian died on November 2, 2020, at the age of 78 in Easton, MD.

Early career[edit]

Brian graduated from medical school at Duke University and served in the Army Medical Corps in Vietnam.[1]

Political career in California[edit]

After leaving the service in 1970, he was appointed first as Director of California's Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), then Secretary of Health and Welfare. During his term as secretary, Brian succeeded in implementing a requirement for a $2 co-payment from Medi-Cal recipients for each doctor's visit,[2] but failed in an attempt to curtail medical benefits available under Medi-Cal when the state lost a suit brought by the California Medical Association.[3] In 1974 Brian resigned his cabinet post and ran for the U.S. Senate seat held by Senator Alan Cranston (D–CA), but lost the Republican primary.[1]

Business and expansion[edit]

Brian then turned to business and in 1980 established his own company, Biotech Capital, a venture capital firm that invested in companies developing medical technology.[4] Biotech later shifted its focus to news and information services, acquiring interest in the Financial News Network (FNN) and changing the name Biotech in 1987 to Infotechnology.[4] In 1988, the company acquired United Press International, one of the two major American news wire services at the time.[1]

Conspiracy and fraud conviction[edit]

Infotechnology encountered financial difficulties and filed for bankruptcy in 1991, as did FNN and UPI.[5] In 1995, Brian was charged with conspiracy and fraud for inflating the value of FNN and UPI in an attempt to secure loans to shore up the companies.[6] He was convicted of the conspiracy charges in 1996 and sentenced to four years in prison.[7]



Dr. Earl Winfrey Brian, Jr., died on November 2,2020 at the age of 78 in Easton, MD.

Earl Brian, born February 26,1942, the only son of Earl Winfrey Brian MD. Sr and Blanche Barringer Brian, spent his youth in Raleigh, NC. Early on, he excelled in academics and quickly developing the remarkable intelligence and determined confidence that became part of his life-long personality.

Following the footsteps of both his parents, he enrolled at Duke University at age 16 and entered Duke Medical School at age 19, graduating in 1965. He accepted residency at Stanford University Medical Center Palo Alto in their prestigious surgery/neurosurgery program. In 1967, drafted by the US Army, he went to officers training at Fort Sam Houston, then Surgeons' Flight School in Fort Ruckers, Alabama. He was then stationed at the Presidio before serving in Vietnam. There he earned the Bronze Star, the Silver Star and the Air Medal for Valor becoming the most decorated physician of the conflict. He rose to the rank of major prior to coming home at the end of 1968. He never forgot the young men lost in service and the brave men who died there.

During his youth, he fell in love with tennis. He learned to play the game at Royster Courts simply by watching others play. Even though he was self-taught, he won the North Carolina Men's Singles Junior title at age 14. He continued to play tennis the rest of his life with his hitting partner and teacher, Jay Aldridge of Cambridge MD. He loved to watch his children and grandchildren play the game.

Deciding not to pursue a career in the military, he returned to California and worked as a neurosurgeon at University of Southern California School of Medicine. In 1971, after receiving a surprise from the Governor Ronald Regan, he accepted a position working for him. He quickly rose to a cabinet position becoming the youngest director of Health and Human Services in California's history. A staunch Republican all his life, he managed to reach across the aisles on a number of occasions to ensure bipartisan approval. He prided himself on innovative and cost-effective legislation particularly in healthcare. During his tenure, he helped move California from a ranking of 48 out of 50 states in healthcare costs to 2nd out of 50 within 4 years. His innovations included a modest co-payment from patients, the first ever implemented in the country. In 1975, he was awarded One of the Top Outstanding Men of America along with co-recipient, Joe Biden. In 1976, he left Regan's cabinet, but he continued his involvement in national healthcare issues and reforms for many more years. Although he briefly entertained a career in politics, after an unsuccessful bid for US Senate in 1978, he moved on to pursue a business career as an entrepreneur.

He moved with his family to NYC and began several business ventures including Infotech, UPI, Hadron and FNN. He fondly remembered his colleagues and kept up with many of them through the years. His lasting contributions to business include 24/7 financial news updates and ticker displayed prices in real time displayed at the bottom of the TV screen. His goal of providing real time financial analysis on TV was one of the first of its kind. Dr. Brian's work as a venture capitalist began in 1982 and continued until 2017. He invested in many startup companies particularly in health and tech fields, some performing well. During this time, he served as chairman of Duke Hospital Advisory Board.

His Life's passion however, revolved around the mathematical proofs of stock market trends by computer algorithms. He worked on this analysis from age 18 to 75. He felt much gratitude to his long time colleague "Joey" Dong Ping Zhou for their hours of work together. He much appreciated the work of Kan Devani as they spent many hours discussing business plans.

In passing, he is predeceased by his parents, Earl Sr. and Blanche. He leaves behind his wife, Molly (Mary) B. Brian, MD and children: Earl W Brian III (Nina), Jennifer M Brian (Chet), Natalie Dent, Christopher Brian (Ellen), Alexandra Brian and stepson Robert A Burgoyne (Laura). His grandchildren are: Earl W Brian IV (Winn), Baron Brian (Bo), Audrey Dent, John Dent and Vivian Brian. His beloved sisters, Betsy Rollins and Leigh Cooper also survive him; as well as, his first cousin Henry Hawthorne (Beth); and his nephew Dave Schmickel (Amy) and the Schmickel family. His step grandchildren are Connor and Emelia Burgoyne. He owes a debt of gratitude to former wives Jane and Diana and all those who supported him in good times and bad.

Earl Brian will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery with military honors at a future date. In lieu of flowers, consider a donation to local charities he thought highly of: