Michael Brick, senior writer and energy reporter for the Houston Chronicle and former Daily Texan adviser, died of colon cancer in Austin on Feb. 8 at the age of 41.
"As adviser to The Daily Texan, Michael Brick inspired the staff with his talent, his energy and his humanity," said Wanda Garner Cash, associate director of the School of Journalism. "The student journalists admired and loved him. Mike always regarded them as serious journalists and, in turn, they strived to exceed his expectations."
A native of Cheverly, Md., Brick’s family moved to Dallas when he was 14, where he earned his diploma at R.L. Turner High School in Carrollton before enrolling at The University of Texas at Austin and writing for The Daily Texan. Brick’s biggest story for the student publication was on the shooting of four federal agents at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco in 1993. While attending the Forty Acres, he also fronted rock bands and became an accomplished songwriter and musician who played guitar and mandolin in several bands until his death.
Brick began a professional print career at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, wrote speeches for a Texas state representative, articles for a financial news site and performed research in New York for the 2001 book “The Informant” about price-fixing.
Brick reported for The New York Times beginning in 2001 with a start at the business desk. He went on to cover education in Texas, crime in New York and extreme sports across the U.S. In 2008, Brick moved back to Austin and freelanced for several national magazines and papers.
In 2012, he published “Saving the School: The True Story of a Principal, a Teacher, a Coach, a Bunch of Kids, and a Year in the Crosshairs of Education Reform” about the actions of well-meaning educators to save Reagan High School in east Austin. In 2013, Brick published the Kindle Single e-book “The Big Race” about a national motorcycle race.
Through 2013 and 2014, he mentored students in the Moody College of Communication and Texas Student Media. His expertise in reporting on stories ranged from the downfall of utilities giant Enron and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to feature articles about dive bars and profiles of rattlesnake wranglers.
Brick is survived by his wife Stacy; son, John-Henry; daughters Celia and Sadie Aasletten; father, Robert; mother, Mary; and brother, Jeffrey. A service commemorating Brick is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 13 at 1 p.m. at St. Louis Catholic Church at 7601 Burnet Road in Austin.