Brian, 70, had run the Independent since 2014 after acquiring a 51pc stake in the newspaper from Tindle Newspapers at the same time he stepped down as that company’s managing director.
Just hours before his death on Saturday night he had been helping colleagues with the 200-year-old title’s latest edition, celebrating the achievements of a host of West Country Olympians.
John Collings, the Independent’s sports editor and editor-in-chief, said: “We have all been deeply shocked by this sudden and sad news.
“Brian always played an active role in this newspaper, contributing on a daily basis and had been with us on Saturday helping to get the paper out. He just loved the Indy.
“I don’t think he could ever retire. Newspapers, especially local newspapers with their communities at heart, were what drove him on.
“We are all determined to maintain his work ethos, his principles and his objectives to make the Indy even better still. It’s what he would have wanted and it’s what he will get.”
Born in Dundee, Brian spent his whole life in newspapers, serving first as a reporter on the Mid Devon Advertiser when he was 16.
He then moved on to other Devon weekly titles, including the Sunday Independent, before moving into management when the title became part of the Mirror Newspapers’ training scheme.
Under his stewardship, the Sunday Independent became a sports and leisure-led newspaper, moving to new premises on the outskirts of Liskeard, in Cornwall.
At the time he purchased the paper, he said: “The Sunday Independent was launched in 1808 and has survived Napoleon and two World Wars. It has another 200 years ahead.”
Despite leaving Tindle as MD two years ago, he continued to oversee its local radio stations in the Channel Islands and Ireland.
Brian is survived by wife Sam and daughter Alexandra.
No funeral details have been announced.