Obituary Note: Robert S. Friedman

New Age publisher Robert S. Friedman died on January 7. He was 76 and had a long struggle with spontaneous Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD Prion's Disease), a rare neurodegenerative brain disorder.

In 1974, he founded the Donning Company, a specialty book publisher, where he was president and publisher. In 1989, he founded Hampton Roads Publishing Company with Frank DeMarco, and over two decades published more than 1,000 titles, mostly metaphysical and self-help books, including the first of Neale Donald Walsch's Conversations with God titles. Friedman also co-wrote Milton's Secret (2008) with Eckhart Tolle.

In 2009, Friedman stepped down as publisher of Hampton Roads and the next year began another New Age book publishing company, Rainbow Ridge Books. There he published, among other titles, Inner Vegas: Creating Miracles, Abundance, and Health by Dr. Joseph Gallenberger; The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences and A Manual for Developing Humans by P.M.H. Atwater; and Coming Full Circle: Ancient Teachings for a Modern World by Lynn Andrews. He also published a  revised version of Richard Bach's Messiah's Handbook as well as Neale Donald Walsch's God's Message to the World: You've Got Me All Wrong and the final title in the Conversations with God series, Awaken the Species.

Walsch paid tribute to Friedman, saying, "My heart opens to this very day, when I think of Bob Friedman's courage in publishing Conversations with God nearly 25 years ago, when it was such cutting-edge material that five other publishers wouldn't go near it. [Bob's] insatiable intellectual curiosity and sheer business bravery marked him forever as a pioneer in his industry, throwing open the door to a whole new level of spiritual exploration books."

Rudy Shur, president of Square One Publishers, distributor of Rainbow Ridge, said, "I always respected Bob's accomplishments, and also appreciated him as a friend. It was nice how, over the years, he and I both learned from each others' own experiences in publishing. He was even-tempered, enjoyed a good laugh, and was always willing to listen. I will miss him."

Friedman's son Jonathan will run Rainbow Ridge Books. "I plan to honor my father's legacy and to maintain as best I can the potential and promise of his plans and vision for Rainbow Ridge as he had intended," he said.

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