My friend, Brad Steiger, has passed away, after what I believe was a long illness. You can read the obituary here:
I first learned of Brad while I was still in high school. As I have mentioned in the past, I read Strangers in the Skies, while sitting in study hall, and while that didn’t spark my interest in UFOs, it certainly set me on a track to study them.
While in college, one of my friends from Clinton, Iowa, told me about a fellow there, Warren Smith, who wrote about UFOs and the paranormal. He often paired with Brad writing books, sometimes under the pen name of Eric Norman. Brad, it seems had invented the name, but it was often Smith who used it.
In the 1970s, I was working on a book about the paranormal (which, by the way, was never published) and I was discussing the tales of people who seemed to have vanished in very mysterious ways. One of those cases was from 1909, and Brad had written about it. Given that I had met Smith, I knew the secret for finding Brad. He had been born as Eugene Olson and had adopted the name Brad Steiger because he admired the actor, Rod Steiger. Anyway, I knew that Brad taught at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and was listed in the telephone book as Eugene Olsen. Back in those days, without the Internet, I used Directory Assistance to get the telephone number and called Brad.
He was most cordial and told me that he had learned, since his book that contained the story was published, that the case was a hoax. We had a long chat, and that began the friendship that lasted for decades.
When I hosted my radio show in the 1990s (and yes, it was on the radio because podcasts didn’t exist) on KTSM-AM in El Paso, Texas, Brad was one of my first guests and often helped me to book others that he knew. If I was in some kind of a jam for the program, I could count on him to either fill the void, or find someone to step in.
|Brad and Sherry Steiger|
We often shared information about UFOs, sometimes about ghosts or other aspects of the paranormal. He helped me on several occasions, providing some insight to a specific case or avenue for research. Sometimes, he would provide inside information. On one occasion, as we talked about Al Bielek, who had stayed with Brad and Sherry several times over the years, they learned that Bielek’s tale might not be grounded in reality. Both were disappointed to discover that a friend had been less than candid in his tales of time travel and the Allende Letters case.
Which reminds me that back in the early 1970s, while I was still on active duty in the Army, I read Brad’s book (written with Joan Whritenhour) about the Allende case. It seems that one of Brad’s friends had written to the Navy, which provided information about the case. My thought was that if he could do it, so could I. Brad, you might say, was the inspiration for that bit of investigation… but I digress.
At one of the MUFON Symposiums held in Denver, I don’t remember if it was 2010 or 2011, a fellow came up and said that I had written more UFO books than anyone else. I immediately said that I didn’t think so. I thought it was Brad. Later, Brad and I had a chuckle about this and I don’t believe we ever resolved who had written more… not that we cared. We did notice that Nick Redfern was making a real run at this “record.”
When I began my last radio show/podcast on the X-Zone Broadcast Network, I thought that one of the first guests should be Brad. We exchanged emails and while Brad was delighted with the offer, he had just returned to Iowa and there were many problems getting settled, getting the house ready, and confidentially, his health wasn’t the best. He had an open invitation and we had even scheduled what I thought of as our Halloween “Spooktacular” show, to talk of UFOs and ghosts and other things that wen bump in the night. Brad had to cancel for health reasons. I was, of course, disappointed, but then so was Brad.
We finally worked out the details, and Brad did make an appearance on the show. It was, of course, one of the easiest interviews because Brad was the perfect guest. He knew how to answer a question, knew where to go to make the topic interesting, and in this case, said some very nice things about me. You can listen to that interview here:
Not all that long ago, I learned that Brad’s health was declining. He asked that I not share the information, which I didn’t. I was sad to hear about his health problems and worried about them. And, of course, sadden to learn that they had caught up with him.
|A young Brad Steiger.|
Brad was born on February 19, 1936, apparently in a blizzard in Iowa. His career took him around the country, he appeared on dozens of radio and television shows, and hosted and produced some himself. He had a near death experience when he was 11 which changed his life. He was interested in UFOs, angels, the paranormal, and, of course, near death experiences. He once told me that he accepted what people told him until he learned that they couldn’t be trusted. He didn’t look for the bad and didn’t belittle those with whom he disagreed. He had a belief in people and in their goodness, realizing that some simply were no good.
I admired his philosophy in life but the cynic in me didn’t let me accept everyone so readily. He assisted me when he could, provided help when I asked, and I never heard him say anything nasty about anyone, though he had cause to do so on more than one occasion. I suppose you would say that he had a good heart, enjoyed what he was doing, and had more than a little fun doing it.
Had I known that the last time I would speak to him would be during that interview, I probably would have done things a little differently. But you just never know. I’ll miss him, as I’m sure many others will as well. Take a moment to think of him during the next few days, and don’t forget to include Sherry, his wife since 1987, in your thoughts.
Brad was 82.