NEWS, SPORTS, COMMENTARY, POLITICS for Gloucester City and the Surrounding Areas of South Jersey and Philadelphia

CNB ARCHIVES 2007: A conversation with Mayor James
Gary Gross Sr., Owner of ECarol Insulators Succumbs, Former Gloucester City Resident


POSTED HERE ON June 10, 2009

We all tried to help him in some way whether it was giving him some change for a pack of smokes or a couple of dollars to get something to eat. “Don’t spend this on booze Jersey”, I would say as I handed him a couple of dollars, “get something to eat”.

So what happened? How did this guy with the curly black hair and nice smile turn into the town drunk?

Jim's full name was James William Day; parents were James Charles Day and Elizabeth Sarah (Ward) Day. He was born December 1, 1941 in Philadelphia, PA. Growing up he resided at 520 Ridgeway Street, in Gloucester City. He worked for a soap manufacturer in Camden in the 1960's until he was fired when a new owner took over the factory. Shortly after that, Jersey had a psychotic break-down and was diagnosed with paranoid-schizophrenia and alcoholism. He was never the same after he lost his job. He was committed to Lakeland State Hospital in 1979 and was released in 1980.

Years have passed and I often wondered what happen to him? The last I recall seeing him was in the early 90’s. I had heard several stories; he was put in a mental institution, and later died. But I really never knew whether that was true or not.

Last November out of the blue I received an Email from Patrick Healey, of McCann- Healey Funeral Home, who said Jersey’s brother, the Reverend Bill Day, had contacted him. Father Bill wanted to know if Patrick had any idea of where Jersey was buried.

Patrick contacted me to see if I had any information that would help his brother in his search for Jersey’s resting place.

A series of Email’s between the two of us began. We spoke several times on the phone.

Come to find out that Bill’s last contact with his brother was in the early 80’s. It was during his time in the Catholic seminary studying to become a priest that Father Day lost contact with him.

Father Bill was assigned to a parish in New Mexico and Arizona ministering to Native Americans. He was traveling between parishes when the car he was driving was struck by a tractor trailer. As a result of the accident he had to retire from the priesthood. But he still lives in Arizona.

November 24, 2008 Father Bill writes, “I loved Jimmy very much and knew how difficult life had always been for him. When he lost his job at a soap factory in Camden, it caused Jimmy to have the mental break-down and eventually the paranoid-schizophrenia, as well as the fall into alcoholic syndrome. “Jersey” returned to not taking his meds. And "ran away" back to Gloucester City. It was the town he loved so very much. My aunt Marge and Uncle Bill tried so hard to care for Jersey. I love them very much and I am eternally grateful for all they did to care for him.


After reaching out to several people I got lucky; Frank Crosson and Dan Spencer got involve. Because of their contacts in the state of New Jersey and in Camden County they not only located “Jersey’s” death certificate but also located the cemetery where he is buried. He died in July 1993 and is buried in a Potter’s grave at Evergreen Cemetery, Camden NJ.

I must add it took many months of hard work by Frank and Dan to resolve this matter and I appreciate it. Echoing those feelings Father Bill writes,

(March 28, 2009) It's been a long journey. But it couldn't have been done without the four of you. I am so very grateful. I can't tell you how much this means to me. Jimmy (Jersey) was a good guy, but he was trapped in a weak body that attracted bad things-alcohol, smoking, paranoid-schizophrenia. He became a lost soul. Part of that was my fault. It will be on my mind forever. But, I can at least bring him home to his Mom. He really loved her and missed her. I know he is already in Heaven with my other family members. I am alone now in this world, but prayed for and remembered by them in God's Kingdom.

As of this writing Father Bill is still trying to arrange his affairs so that he can travel here from Arizona to bury Jersey in his final resting place with his Mom in Philadelphia.

McCann Healey Funeral Home has offered to assist Father Day in the process of moving his brother from Evergreen Cemetery and transporting the remains to Fernwood. The Healey’s will also make all the arrangements with the cemetery.

May your soul Rest in Peace Jim “Jersey” Day 1941-1993, at last your journey has ended.


God Bless Jersey! said...

Thank you very much for sharing this story. As you know so many people in Gloucester City are quick to pass judgment on others. Everyone’s brain is wired differently, therefore something such as the loss of a job can have a major effect on one’s life while others are able to pick up and go on. I remember as a child many people would make fun of Jersey and treat him very badly, my mother would never allow myself or my siblings to do anything of that nature there would be consequences to face for sure. 
The people of Gloucester City can be the greatest people and come together in times of need; the can however pass judgment quickly and assume they know how each and every person should react to a situation they are faced with in life.
May you rest in peace Jersey! To Father Jersey, I am extremely happy you will be able to find peace within yourself knowing your brother will be laid to rest with your mother.
Bill and Patrick God bless the two of you for taking the time to help this family; the two of you and people such as you from Gloucester City are what make me proud to call Gloucester City home.

Rest in peace said...

Thank you very much for writing such a poignant and touching story. There but for the grace of God...

RIP Jersey said...

How many of us passed Jersey in our travels and never gave him a second thought. Such a sad story.

Hats off to Mr. Healey, Mr. Spencer and Mr. Crosson for helping Father Bill find his brother.

Carolyn Shaw said...

I graduated with billy in 1965 but I do not remember him having a brother. I remember hearing that bill became a priest but never knew for sure. This is such a touching story and I just want billy to know he still has friends in Gloucester.

Father Bill Day said...

Bill: Thanks again for the story about Jersey. The comments from people of the town are heartwarming and touching. I remember Carolyn Shaw very well. I'm hoping more comments will be offered so that I can learn more about Jersey's life. Some of my family members did their best to check on him from time-to-time. But when he would see them he would run and hide. Probably afraid that he would be back in Lakeland. His life had to have been more difficult and painful than any of us would have imagined. I once heard he had a girlfriend who was caring for him. But that might be true or not. You can post my comments if you wish.

I DO want to Thank All who were kind to him and wrote about him and the story. May God Bless You All. Sincerely, Fr. Bill Day 

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