(GLOUCESTER CITY, NJ)(June 22, 1994)--George F. Cleary Sr., 80, who started as a reporter and became the owner, publisher, and editor of the weekly Gloucester City News from 1950 until he retired in 1984, died Sunday at his Gloucester City home after a long battle with diabetes and Parkinson's Disease.
Raised in Gloucester City, Mr. Cleary was one of the city's biggest boosters and was active in civic affairs.
"He was a good hard working person," said Walt Burrows, scholastic sports editor for the Courier-Post and an associate of Mr. Cleary since the 1950s. ''He was one of the top men in town and was widely respected. He was very dedicated to the city and always used the newspaper to support the city. And he was very supportive of the city's two high schools and sports programs."
Mr. Cleary served on the Gloucester City Board of Education from 1949 to 1954, and in the mid-1940s, he ran for city council.
Mr. Cleary sold the Gloucester City News to his son William E. Cleary Sr. when he retired in 1984. He was a former partner in Publishers Inc., a South Jersey printing firm started by several weekly newspaper publishers. He also was the former publisher and editor of the Camden County Record.
In 1948, Mr. Cleary went to work as a reporter for the Gloucester City News, and two years later, he purchased the paper.
"He didn't even have a car when he purchased the paper, and he used to walk from one end of town to the other getting advertisements for it," said his son William. "He would go to all the local meetings and cover them, write the stories, then make up and sell ads, take pictures of happenings in town, lay out the paper for the printer, proofread it, and then sometimes deliver it to stores."
One of his discoveries while walking the town to sell advertising was that the city didn't have a single place where pencils were sold, said his son. As a result, he opened Cleary's Office Supplies, a store he operated from 1952 until 1963.
Mr. Cleary enjoyed the controversy that sometimes followed his editorials. He was among those who successfully opposed a plan to construct the Walt Whitman Bridge right through the center of Gloucester City. In the 1950s, his son said he sided with local churches in opposing a law that allowed local taverns to be open on Sunday.
Mr. Cleary was a former Gloucester City Library Board of Trustees member. He was a member of the Gloucester City Lions Club from 1949 to 1991 and was King Lion in 1973 and 1974. He was named Man of the Year by the Gloucester City Jaycees in 1966. He was an honorary city fireman.
An active member of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Gloucester City, he was a Fourth Degree member of Knights of Columbus Council 674 and Men of Malvern.
Born in Camden, Mr. Cleary resided in Gloucester City in 1924 and attended Gloucester Catholic High School. Later, he graduated from the former Camden Commercial College and took classes at Philadelphia College of Textiles. Before embarking on his newspaper career, he worked for Eavenson and Levering in Camden for 18 years until the firm went out of business.
In addition to his son William, Mr. Cleary is survived by his wife of 62 years, Mazie Tucker Cleary; another son, George F. Jr. of Gloucester City; a daughter, Dolores Raube of Gloucester City; 12 grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.
The Christian burial Mass was celebrated in St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Monmouth, and Atlantic Streets, Gloucester City. The grave was in Calvary Cemetery in Cherry Hill. Funeral arrangements were under the direction of the McCann Funeral Home, 851 Monmouth St., Gloucester City.
The family requests that memorial donations be made to St. Mary's Special Fund, 426 Monmouth St., Gloucester City, N.J. 08030.
They were first published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Later I attended the Immaculate Conception School at Sixth and Market Streets, Camden, where I remained until we moved to Gloucester City, NJ, in 1924.
An interesting sidelight is that the house where I lived in Camden on Line Street had no central heat or electricity, which meant that although we had a bathtub on the second floor, it could not be used in the winter. As a result, we would get our bath on a Saturday night in a washtub placed in the kitchen in front of the coal stove.
PHOTO: Jim "Reds" Cleary (left) and George Cleary
Also, to keep warm in the winter, we had feather mattresses on the beds, and when we would wake up in the morning, we would grab our clothes and run down to the kitchen, where we would get dressed.
In addition, during the winter, we would close off the living room and the dining room and live in the kitchen. The only time we would use the living room in the winter would be on a Sunday if we had a bright warm sunny day.
Incidentally, we used gas mantles for illumination, and I still remember the beautiful fixture we had in our dining room.
To continue, when we moved to Gloucester City, at 828 Bergen Street, in 1924, my brother and I were enrolled in St. Mary's Grammar School, where I made quite a few friends; we were all delighted until 1928. In March of that year, my mother died, and eight months later, n November my father died. The cause of death was Tuberculosis. I graduated from St. Mary's in June of the same year. In September, I enrolled in Gloucester Catholic High School. Shortly after that, I got sick and was sent to Lakeland Sanitarium with (guess what?) Tuberculosis.
Photo: George, left, at age 17, with Mr. Brown, the person standing Bob Dixon.
After leaving Lakeland, I enrolled in Camden Commercial College (a business school), where I studied shorthand and typing. In later years, I attended Philadelphia Textile School and took an International Correspondence School course. Also, in line with my newspaper work took a class in speed writing at Gloucester City Adult High School.
Oops! Almost forgot. Before my father's death, he purchased for $80 an unheard-of entertainment piece, namely, a radio operated by one "A" and two "B" batteries. Before that, we made our radio, which consisted of wrapping the wire around an empty oatmeal box and using what we called a "cat whisker."
PHOTO: George F. Cleary (left) (date unknown)
After we graduated to the better class radio, we would sit up half the night trying for distance and compare notes with our neighbors the next day (who had also purchased the more improved sets).
Following the death of my parents, I stayed at Lakeland for several more months and, when I was discharged, went to live in Camden with my grandmother, Abigal Welsh, and my cousin, Margaret Welsh, again on Line Street.
I obtained my first position with the John C. Winston book publishers in Philadelphia and, about the same time, enrolled in an evening course at Camden Commercial College for shorthand and typing.
As this was during the Great Depression, I only lasted several months at Winston's when I was laid off. Subsequently, I obtained employment at Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia, which also only lasted several months.
Finally, through the efforts of my uncle, John Welsh, I went to work at Eavenson and Levering Company, Camden, where I worked for 18 years only to be laid off when they had a change of management, which eventually forced the Company into bankruptcy.
I met my wife, Mazie Tucker, on a tennis court at Gloucester City Park, King Street, during this period. The friendship was heightened after my grandmother's death; I went to live at her home through the company I had with her brother Ed Tucker who felt sorry for me.
Mazie and I were married on November 3, 1932, and our marriage resulted in three wonderful children, Dolores, George, and Billy. All of them have since married, and now we have 12 grandchildren who also are out of this world.
But, to return to my employment in 1948, when I was laid off from Eavenson and Levering, it seemed like the end of the world, but through the efforts of Bill Kenney Sr., a close friend, I was able to obtain employment with the Gloucester City News.
I worked for the newspaper until January 1950, when Mazie and I purchased the paper, and although it hasn't always been easy, we have been very fortunate in making a good living.
A lifelong Republican, I had a brief fling in politics around 1948 when I acted as secretary for Mayor Philip V. Rhea. I also ran for the position of Second Ward Councilman in Gloucester City but was defeated by Frederick W. Floyd, with who I later became a close friend.
Starting in 1949, I was appointed by Mayor Rhea to a five-year term on the Gloucester City Board of Education.
About six months after we purchased the Gloucester City News, my wife and I established Cleary's office Supplies and later had a Western Union Telegraph Agency. We sold the office supply store in June 1957 because it was too much to handle along with the other businesses.
In 1958 I became a stockholder in Publishers Inc., a printing plant; I am treasurer of the Company.
Hughie McCaughey and I formed a partnership and purchased the Camden County Record newspaper in October 1965.
George and Mazie retired in 1984. They sold the Gloucester City News to their son Bill and daughter-in-law Connie. They also sold their stock in Publishers Inc. and Camden County Record. George died in 1994 in June on Father's Day from complications caused by Parkinson's Disease. Mazie died in 1995 from complications brought on by Alzheimer's disease.