Obituary: Bernard J. 'Jack' Daley / U.S. Steel editor by day, witty science fiction, fantasy writer by night

Sept. 24, 1918 - April 27, 2011

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To earn a living, Bernard J. "Jack" Daley served as the meticulous editor of technical journals in U.S. Steel's Applied Research Department.

But a large part of his life revolved around writing and an enduring passion for science fiction, fantasy, horror stories and comics. His stories appeared in "Infinity" and "Fantastic Universe," as well as a 1957 anthology of science fiction and fantasy tales.

Fun-loving, witty and compassionate, Mr. Daley was among the earliest customers at Greg Eide's comic store when it opened in Etna in 1972. Today, Eide's Entertainment is at 1121 Penn Ave., Downtown.

In the pre-Internet era, "We were all finding each other. Jack would come in with his son, Chris," said Mr. Eide, who hosted after-hours, monthly gatherings at his store on Saturday night where collectors traded and sold comics while appreciating the imagination of author Stan Lee and the artistry of illustrators like Frank Frazetta.

Mr. Daley, 92, died of a blood infection and pneumonia Wednesday at Hamilton Hills Personal Care Facility in Turtle Creek. His collection of more than 7,000 items included hardcover and paperback books, pulp magazines, comic books and fan publications.

During his boyhood and adolescence in the West End, he regularly read newspaper comic strips "Flash Gordon," "Tarzan," "Buck Rogers," "Krazy Kat" and "Pogo." After graduating from Langley High School in 1937, he joined the Army Air Corps and served in World War II.

In the spring of 1946, he enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh, earning a bachelor's degree in English literature in 1951, followed by a master's in that discipline in 1953. Mr. Daley's master's thesis focused on James Branch Cabell, an American author of fantasies.

While employed as a lecturer in the English Department, he met his future wife, Joanne, another teacher whose desk was nearby. The couple spent most of their married life in Penn Hills.

In spite of his advanced education, Mr. Eide said, "He wasn't an elitist who just liked literature. He saw the value in comics and science fiction, the value being the intrinsic value, not the dollar signs."

Low key and soft spoken, Mr. Daley possessed a keen memory. Walter Albert, who lives in Point Breeze, met his friend in 1976 when he joined a group of seven collectors who met regularly in one another's homes.

"We were all great fans of science fiction writers and the pulp magazines where much of the early science fiction was published. We would usually bring something, a magazine or book," Mr. Albert recalled. "We would talk about the writers, their works. Many of us were interested in film so we would talk about the movies. The high point of the evening was doughnuts and coffee."

Tucked into Mr. Daley's shirt pocket was a brown notebook that held "a very selective 'want list' of items he was looking for," Mr. Albert said. At comic book shows, "Jack would follow very slowly behind me and find all the interesting things that I and everyone else had overlooked."

For two decades, Mr. Daley, Mr. Albert and their late friend, Bob Hyde, wrote a quarterly newsletter called "Three from Thuria" that was published in the Edgar Rice Burroughs Amateur Press Association fanzine. (Thuria is a mythical place conjured by Burroughs, author of the Tarzan stories.)

Mr. Daley's story, "The Man Who Liked Lions," appeared in "S-F '57 The Year's Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy," an anthology published by Gnome Press. His daughter, Elaine Daley, said it's about a renegade time traveler who wreaks havoc in a zoo.

Mr. Daley also wrote articles and drew cartoons for an in-house newspaper at U.S. Steel called Research Laboratory News, submitting humorous pieces about the lab and how it operated.

"He had always wanted to be a cartoonist," Ms. Daley said, adding that her father's unpublished novel, "Kings of the Golden Isle," is a coming-of-age story with fantasy elements.

Mr. Daley joined U.S. Steel in 1955, retiring in 1978. In February, the couple celebrated their 58th wedding anniversary. Their son, Christopher, died in 1996. In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Daley is survived by two brothers, George, of Penn Hills, and Richard, of Memphis, Tenn.

A memorial service will be held at Hamilton Hills at a later date.


Marylynne Pitz: mpitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1648.


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