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Bill's Point of View: Good Riddance; A Quiet Man

 By Bill Cleary

GOOD RIDDANCE -Thank God the 2010 election is over. 


The endless campaign commercials on television were annoying. The 6a00d8341bf7d953ef011571114c5a970c-800wi election process in our country has gotten out of hand. You must raise millions of dollars to run for a seat in the House or Senate. And many of those politicians that were successful took contributions from big corporations to help fund their campaign. Although they will deny they owe any obligation to their contributors their voting records will show just the opposite


Locally there were no suprises. The incumbents, Mayor Bill James, and council members, John Hutchinson, Bruce Parry, and Kelly Ferry easlly won re-election. James beat his opponent Nick Schultz, a fireman, by 913 votes (1485 to 572).  As for council the only incumbent to be challenged was Hutchinson who received 470 votes beating out two unknowns, Dave Townsend (257 votes) and Mike Walters, (91 votes). 


Because of the hard feelings between the firemen and Mayor James you would have thought Schultz would have received more votes. Apparently the majority of residents who voted agreed with the mayor’s decision to lay off 8 firemen. The turnout was light in Gloucester City. Out of 6244 registered voters only 2389 people voted or approximately 38 percent of those eligible.


A QUIET MAN-Gloucester City resident Jim Nicholson made an appearance recently on the television show Sunday Mornings with Charles Osgood. Nicholson a retired obit writer for the Philadelphia Daily News, was interviewed by Jeff Greenfield. 


From the interview,


In the early 1980s, a Philadelphia Daily News writer named Jim Nicholson moved to the obituary beat, and began to breathe new life into this very old form. 


"We were the people paper; still is the people's paper," Nicholson said. "And it just seemed natural to do real-house people, mechanics, plumbers, teachers, cops - nothing startling." 


People like a chef "who was a hard worker and an easy touch"; a bartender "who could make a setting click whether it was a tavern, girls club or home." 


That was something of a revolutionary idea for a big-city newspaper. But it wasn't just who got memorialized, but how, with recollections and anecdotes that brought these people to life, the kind of stuff that happens every day on street corners. 


"When two buddies run into each other and say, 'Did you hear crazy Ralph died?' 'No, really?' And for the next five minutes, they sum up all the characteristics, good and bad, of crazy Ralph, right off the top of their head," Nicholson said. "Sometimes, when you get really small picture and granular, you get the big picture. What would make him mad? What kind of cigarettes did he smoke? Did he keep his shoes neat in the closet?" 


It was an approach that won Nicholson an American Society of Newspaper Award for best writing. Not obituary writing. Best writing, period. 


Nicholson has also appeared on the cable show “Gangland” sharing his experience about the Black Mafia in Philadelphia. His investigating report that appeared in the Philadelphia Magazine in the 70’s was a factor in bringing that gang to justice. Two years ago Jim, who I consider a good friend and mentor, traveled to the Middle East as a Army Lt. Colonel specializing in counterintelligence.  He was 66 years old at the time. 


From an article that appeared on CNB in September 2008. 


A graduate of Gloucester City High School, Class of 1960, Nicholson has Nick_2 lived three lives over a span of 66 years. “Modest, quiet, and low-keyed you would never know from looking at him that this man has ice water running through his veins,” said his good friend Bill Tourtual.


photo: Lt. Col. Jim Nicholson


Tourtual said Nicholson has been responsible for taking down bad guys for over 35 years and yet rarely if ever talks about his adventures with his friends or family.

Besides raising a family, serving in the Marines and then joining the Army reserves, he has worked a full-time job as an investigative reporter and journalist until his retirement in 2001. And in each life he has excelled without much fanfare.

Tourtual said earlier this summer the 66-year-old, Lt. Colonel James Nicholson (Ret), was asked by the Army to come back to active duty to serve his country one more time.

Nicholson, whose specialty is counterintelligence, accepted the offer and shipped out to the theater of war in the Middle –East last month


I visited Jim a few days before his appearance on the Sunday morning show, he never mentioned a word to me about his upcoming TV appearance. He doesn’t like the limelight and no doubt will be a little upset that I wrote about him in my column this week. However any reporter “worth his salt” would never let a story about Jim pass by. And if our  shoes were reversed Jim would do the same. 




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