Obituary of Norman Tomlinson, Jr.
~~Norman B. Tomlinson Jr
Miami - Norman B. Tomlinson Jr., former publisher of The Daily Record in Morristown and New Jersey Monthly, passed away on December 7 after a brief illness.
Born on March 14, 1927, to Loretta Barris Tomlinson and Norman Balderston Tomlinson, Norman B. Tomlinson Jr. graduated from The Pingry School and attended Princeton University, where he received an A.B. degree in 1948, graduating with honors. He graduated from Harvard Law School with a J.D. in 1951 and then served two years in the U.S. Army Transportation Corps during the Korean War. He was admitted to the NJ Bar in 1954 and did his clerkship but soon joined the family business, The Morristown Daily Record, as general manager.
The newspaper had been established by his grandparents, Ernest and Mary Balderston Tomlinson, in 1900. Upon the death of his grandfather in 1919, Tomlinson's father, Norman Tomlinson Sr., became Editor-Publisher, a position he held until fully retiring in 1970, at which time he named his son, known by his informal signature "nbtjr," the firm's President and Editor-Publisher - the third generation to own and run the enterprise.
Tomlinson was a daily and active presence as head of The Daily Record, which was then headquartered at 55 Park Place in Morristown. He could often be found in the newsroom, eager to know what was going on around the county and the world, and ready to engage in challenging repartee about contemporary news and issues. Tomlinson also enjoyed following professional sports - especially the New York Giants - and significantly expanded the newspaper's coverage of major league teams by creating a sports department whose reporters covered games around the country.
Not surprisingly given his training as an attorney and his interest in law, Tomlinson was not afraid to take a stand on issues that he believed in, even if others disagreed. For example, he was instrumental in the founding of the County College of Morris. While some County Freeholders were opposed to the creation of a county college, Tomlinson believed it necessary for the county to have an educational facility that was more than a trade school. He started what he described as "an old-fashioned newspaper campaign" consisting of an endorsement coupon that ran on page one for weeks. Supporters gathered baskets and baskets of the coupons and dumped them on the freeholders' desks at a public meeting. His commitment was instrumental in founding the County College of Morris. He was also proud of his involvement in a legal case that won girls the right to be newspaper carriers.
Tomlinson also continued the newspaper's growth and leadership in the industry in the last quarter of the 20th century. Its coverage grew beyond Morris County, and in early April 1973 The Daily Record published its first Sunday edition. Innovative even then, the Sunday paper included separate sections for sports and for business, finance and real estate; full color comics; a TV magazine, and a special YOU Magazine section of local features, social news and photos.
Contributing to the newspaper's industry leadership was Tomlinson's installation of a state-of-the-art Goss Metro press at the paper's Graphic Arts Center on N. Jefferson Road in Parsippany, which increased the speed of newspaper production and expanded its size and color capabilities, making The Daily Record one of the first newspapers in New Jersey to use color.
In the late 1980s the family decided to exit the newspaper business. The Daily Record became a Gannett publication in 1989.
Tomlinson's interest in adding a magazine-style supplement to the Sunday edition of The Daily Record lead him into discussions with a group of people seeking to create a magazine dedicated to New Jersey. Under his leadership, the family became a partner in the company that, in 1976, launched New Jersey Monthly. The magazine later became a fully-owned subsidiary of the family business with Tomlinson acting as Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. He was aided by his wife, Barbara, and daughter, Kate, who joined the magazine in 1987 and later took over her father's responsibilities at the magazine.
A resident of Morristown for most of his life, Norman Tomlinson was active in and supportive of many local organizations. He served as president of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce and the 200 Club of Morris County, and was chairman of the Morristown Airport Commission. He also served as chairman of the Morristown-Morris Township Free Public Library, where he was an enthusiastic visitor of the History collection. He was an active reader, especially of military history, and collected first-editions, including works by Walt Whitman and Lord Byron, which he donated to the Drew University library.
Tomlinson actively supported the Society for Military History and The Abraham Lincoln Association, was one of the organizers and served as secretary of the New Jersey Civil War Round Table, and was a member of and served on the advisory board of the Civil War Preservation Trust, which raises money for battlefield preservation. He was a member and director of the Western Front Association and endowed the Norman B. Tomlinson Jr. Book Prize, which is awarded annually for the best English-language work of history on the World War I era.
Tomlinson served as a trustee of The Peck School, from which he graduated in 1940, and also of The Pingry School for many years. He was also a supporter of local hospitals, the Morristown Medical Center in particular.
After fully retiring from the publishing business in 2007, Tomlinson became a full-time resident of Miami, Florida, where he had maintained a vacation residence for many years. He was an enthusiastic supporter of local charities there, including the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.
Tomlinson is survived by his wife, Barbara Dydek Tomlinson, their daughter, Kate S. Tomlinson, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of New Jersey Monthly, her husband, Roger, and their son, Daniel, and a niece and nephews. He was predeceased by his two sisters, Jean and Diane.
A visitation and service will be held on Sunday, December 10, from 2:00 - 5:00 PM at the Dangler Funeral Home, 600 Speedwell Ave., Morris Plains. A private burial service will be held at Holy Rood Cemetery in Morristown.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Civil War Preservation Trust or to Vizcaya Museum & Gardens Trust, Inc.
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