Service for Norman B. Tomlinson Jr., former Daily Record publisher, on Dec. 10

Norman B. Tomlinson Jr.
Norman B. Tomlinson Jr.
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A visitation and service for Norman B. Tomlinson Jr., the former publisher of The Daily Record and New Jersey Monthly, is set for Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017.

Tomlinson died on Thursday after a brief illness. He was 90.

The wake runs from 2 pm to 5 pm at the Dangler Funeral Home, 600 Speedwell Ave. in Morris Plains.

A graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School, Tomlinson became president, editor and publisher of The Daily Record in 1970 — 70 years after his grandparents established the newspaper.

The family became a partner in New Jersey Monthly in 1976. The Tomlinsons sold the paper to Gannett in 1989, but Norman Tomlinson Jr.’s daughter Kate continues to publish the magazine.

A Morristown resident for most of his life–he graduated from The Peck School, Class of ’40–Tomlinson was active in civic affairs. He crusaded for creation of the County College of Morris, and for the right of girls to deliver newspapers, according to his obituary. A huge fan of the New York Giants football team, he expanded The Daily Record’s sports coverage dramatically during his tenure. 

Tomlinson’s impact extended beyond Morris County, via the many journalism careers he launched.

“He was a great supporter of local journalism who gave a lot of young journalists an opportunity to learn and develop their craft,”  said David Hinckley, who worked at the paper from 1972 to 1980 before going to the New York Daily News.

At least eight Daily Record staffers from that era landed at the Daily News; many more were hired by The Star-Ledger over the years. Fran Wood worked for all three papers.

“Norman wasn’t unwilling to take a chance on someone, even if they were inexperienced, as I was,” Wood said.

“In 1973, he hired me to write a gardening column based on three sample columns I’d submitted. That freelance gig was my first newspaper job. It opened the door to other feature writing and, eventually, to the post of features editor.” 

Wood remembered Tomlinson’s deadpan sense of humor. He loved telling a story about his stint in the Army. While a lifelong vision impairment did not preclude him from serving, he inexplicably was assigned to the motor pool. 

A superior officer asked Tomlinson what he did. He said he was in the motor pool. The officer asked him what he drove. He said, “I can’t drive. I don’t have a license.” The officer shrugged and replied, “That’s the Army for you.”

Tomlinson also made a lasting mark on the Morristown & Township Library, which he chaired.

The Morristown & Township Library, Dec. 10, 2013. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The Morristown & Township Library, Dec. 10, 2013. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“Norman Tomlinson was a great friend to the Library,” said library Director Chad Leinaweaver

“Not only does the Library have a full run of the Daily Record newspaper for patron research, but he generously donated to support the North Jersey History & Genealogy Center during our building expansion project in 2006. 

“Along with the North Jersey Civil War Roundtable, he also donated his collection of books on the American Civil War that maintains a special location in our History Center.  He was a good friend and will be missed,” Leinaweaver said.

In addition to serving as secretary of the Civil War Roundtable, Tomlinson supported the Society for Military History and The Abraham Lincoln Association, and helped raise money for battlefield preservation on the advisory board of the Civil War Preservation Trust.

A director of the Western Front Association, he endowed the Norman B. Tomlinson Jr. Book Prize, awarded annually for the best English-language historical treatment of the World War I era. 

Tomlinson’s collection of first editions included books by Walt Whitman and Lord Byron, which he donated to the Drew University library, according to his obituary.

He also was president of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce and the 200 Club of Morris County, a trustee of Peck and the Pingry School, and chairman of the Morristown Airport Commission.

After retiring from publishing in 2007, Tomlinson settled in Miami, FL, where he had maintained a vacation residence. He supported the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, among other charities there.

Tomlinson is survived by his wife, Barbara Dydek Tomlinson, their daughter, Kate S. Tomlinson; her husband, Roger, and their son, Daniel; and a niece and nephews. He was predeceased by his two sisters, Jean and Diane.

The family suggests donations to the Civil War Preservation Trust or to the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens Trust Inc., in lieu of flowers.

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