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James Bradford Hedlund (Jim)

Died: February 23, 2013

If nothing else, and there is a lot else, Jim Hedlund will always be remembered as the chairman of the Junior Prom Committee who salvaged it from cancellation, booked Duke Ellington’s Band and Diana Ross and the Supremes, filled the Old Commons and made Yale history! But of course there was a lot more to Jim’s drive and leadership than that. Jim was active at Yale and made innumerable good friends. He was a four-year member of Berkeley’s football team and captain in 1964-65, sports editor for Berkeley’s High Street Herald, a member and house chairman at Beta Theta Pi, and a member of Yale Key, the Class Gift Fund Committee, in addition to the Junior Prom Committee.

An economics major with a disposition to serve and an uncanny ability to get things done, Jim spent most of his career in the non-profit arena, government-related arena. After Yale he went to Wharton for his M.B.A., then for the next three years took budget and planning positions in local government. In 1970 he went to Washington to be executive under-secretary for HUD, 1970-74, and then moved to the White House Council on Wage and Price Stability as deputy director in 1975-76, while also serving as a speech writer for President Ford. From 1977-81 Jim served as staff director for the House of Representatives Committee on the Budget.

His experience and leadership abilities brought him to the attention of many, and in 1981 he accepted the first of two positions as Vice President for Government Relations with major trade associations. In 1988 he became chief executive officer of the second of these, the Association of Independent Television Stations, an association with more than 600 independent stations. In this position he was widely credited for effectively representing the interests of small, independent television stations against large corporate broadcasting and telecommunications companies. He served as CEO for twelve years, from 1988-2000. On Jim’s passing many people published remembrances of him like “wonderful boss, mentor, and friend;” “unfailingly smart, kind and always a terrific fellow to be around;” “a good friend to many people in Washington, a man of his word, and an enjoyable companion;” “a great guy, a great boss;” “not only a great boss, but a terrific guy and friend;” and many more. That is also, of course, how classmates will remember Jim.

“The highlight of my post-Yale years,” he wrote for our 45th Reunion Classbook, “was marrying my best friend, Lee, and having our son Steve, who graduated summa from both Dartmouth and Tuck. He and his beautiful wife have given us two wonderful grandchildren.” In 2002, seeking change from the working lifestyle in Washington, where Lee was “a highly successful mortgage banker,” Lee and Jim retired to Aiken, S.C. Jim enjoyed gourmet cooking and collecting contemporary art, and he liked construction. He had designed and built two houses in DC and remodeled and expanded a third. It was probably no surprise then that in Aiken they formed their own company, focusing on buying, renovating, and selling old houses, “as a hobby which only occasionally makes money!” True to form, he invited classmates to visit. Jim is survived by his “best friend” and wife Lee, his son Steve, and two granddaughters, along with his sister Kathryn.

Marshall Portnoy remembers:

My first year at Yale, I lived at home because my father had died and my mother was getting on her feet. Good decision. Bad decision. Jim Hedlund was one of the first people that reached out to me, and one evening he agreed to come to dinner at our two-bedroom apartment on Ellsworth Avenue. I am sure that he wondered how a Yale man could come from such a modest background, but he was such a gentleman, so appreciative and so kind. We drifted apart, but he taught me what a Yale man ideally should be.