Milo Radulovich was known nationally for confronting the Red Scare and Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, and most recently as the inspiration for George Clooney's movie "Good Night, and Good Luck."
But in Lodi, the retired meteorologist was perhaps best known for his bright smile and the joy he exuded at Downtown coffee shops and across the city.
Radulovich died this week at a hospital in Vallejo. He was 81.
The gregarious Lodi resident - who spent much of his retirement here - had battled health problems since suffering a stroke in June.
Before that, he was a regular at city diners and cafes, where he'd talk about the news of the day and greet strangers with a cheerful hello.
"He was one of our favorites," said Kim Romans, a barista at Tillie's Coffee on Pine Street, where Radulovich ordered his customary egg whites, ham and cheese plus a cup of coffee each morning. "He's going to be well-missed."
Radulovich gained national attention in 1953 when he fought back at the U.S. Air Force's attempt to discharge him for his family's alleged Communist ties.
The Detroit, Mich., native eventually cleared his family's name through a legal battle - one that helped end McCarthy's campaign to root out Americans whose loyalties he questioned.
His case was featured on Edward R. Murrow's TV show "See it Now," and inspired for George Clooney's 2005 movie "Good Night, and Good Luck."
Radulovich's youngest brother, Sam, said the family was a typical American clan, growing up in Detroit, playing on the city's streets.
They weren't all that political, but they did have pride, he said.
"We weren't brought up to sit back and take things without fighting back if it was an injustice," said Sam Radulovich, speaking from his Detroit home.
Milo Radulovich moved to California following his legal fight and became a meteorologist, work that he was passionate about, his brother said.
For a time, he worked for a forecasting company that aided PG&E's cloud-seeding operations in the Sierra Nevada. He later joined the National Weather Service in Sacramento, spending a long career there, Sam Radulovich said.
Milo Radulovich lived a mostly quiet life after retiring in 1994. He had lived in Lodi since 2001.
His life changed dramatically several years ago when he was approached by Clooney and asked to consult on the making of the movie.
From there, he traveled the country, attending a movie premier and giving speeches about his experience in the 1950s.
Oct. 28, 1926: Milo Radulovich is born.
1944: Radulovich joins the Army Air Corps and becomes a meteorologist.
1952: Now a reserve Air Force weather officer in Dexter, Mich., Radulovich is discharged because his father and sister are accused of being communist sympathizers. He was studying physics at the University of Michigan at the time.
Oct. 14, 1953: The Detroit News publishes a front-page article that captures the attention of CBS producer Edward R. Murrow in New York.
Oct. 20, 1953: "The Case Against Lt. Milo Radulovich A0589839," an episode of Edward R. Murrow's "See It Now," airs on TV after a camera crew was dispatched to Michigan to tell his story.
Nov. 4, 1953: Harold E. Talbott, secretary of the Air Force, reverses the findings of the original Air Force board that had declared Radulovich a security risk. He is cleared of all charges and reinstated.
1994: Radulovich retires as a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Sacramento.
1997: Lansing, Mich. resident Michael Ranville documents the Radulovich case in his book "To Strike at a King: The Turning Point in the McCarthy Witch-Hunt."
2001: Radulovich moves to Lodi.
Oct. 21, 2005: George Clooney's "Good Night, and Good Luck" premieres in Sacramento.
- News-Sentinel staff
He captivated a packed audience at the Lodi Library in 2006, speaking also about the Bush administration's curtailment of civil liberties, said several attendees.
"He said if we don't watch it, we'd end up in the same position (as the McCarthy-era trials of the 1950s)," said Lloyd Dennis, a retired school custodian who attended the Lodi speech.
Susan Brazil, a close friend of Radulovich in Lodi, said the charismatic man loved to read, write poetry and attend cultural dances in Sacramento.
He was an "adopted uncle" to her family, and bought books and other gifts for her grandchildren.
"He was a most gracious man, a very generous man," said Brazil, a retired educator and health worker. "He was always smiling and full of life."
Members of Lodi's social justice community said Radulovich will be missed.
"He was one of those people (to whom) I felt we owed a debt of gratitude," said Ann Cerney, a local attorney and social activist. "I'm glad he was among us."
"We need a lot more Radulovichs to stand out against (current injustices)," added Art Raab, a retired Lodi High School history and government teacher and member of Lodi Citizens for Peace.
Radulovich is survived by three daughters, Danica Berner, of Bishop, and Janet Sweeney and Kathy Radulovich, both of Sacramento; two brothers, Walter and Sam Radulovich, both of Detroit; sister, Margaret Fishman, of Detroit and; one grandson, Scott.
A public viewing will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday at Daneri Mortuary Chapel in Jackson. A prayer service will be held at 7 p.m. Monday.
The funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Church in Jackson.