In 1997, the Philadelphia Press Association honored Thomas A. Bergbauer Sr. with a first place award for a column he had written as a staffer at the Camden Courier-Post.
The piece dealt with the impact of the Campbell Soup Co. on life in South Jersey, "about how many tons of tomatoes" the firm was handling, "and how people were dealing with it," his wife, Doris, said.
But through a nearly four-decade career at the newspaper, from which he retired in 1998, Mr. Bergbauer kept his priorities in order.
When the newspaper called him at home and asked him to help with its coverage of the August 1974 resignation of President Richard M. Nixon, he declined.
"He said he wasn't going to go in," his wife said. "He had made plans" for that day with their son, Thomas A. Jr.
"They went fishing."
On Wednesday, Dec. 9, Mr. Bergbauer, 82, of Sicklerville, a rewrite man and copy and makeup editor during a 37-year career with the Courier-Post, died of leukemia at Virtua Marlton Hospital.
Bob Bartosz was a Courier-Post photographer from the late 1950s into the late 1980s, and worked with Mr. Bergbauer when he was a street reporter.
"He was a very thorough guy, always tried to get his stories straight," Bartosz said.
Born in Camden, Mr. Bergbauer graduated from Camden Catholic High School in 1952 and, after Navy service, worked in accounting for the Camden Fire Insurance Association.
In 1961, he graduated from the Charles Morris Price School of Advertising and Journalism in Philadelphia and began his journalism that year with the Courier-Post as a reporter.
During his time there, he worked on the business, church, and real estate desks, as well as being the TV editor.
In retirement, from 2001 to 2010, he wrote "Tracking History" columns, involving the past of both Camden City and County, his wife said.
Phil Cohen, a Camden County historian who now lives in Bismarck, N.D., recalled that he and Mr. Bergbauer would often consult about the history columns.
"Tom's column was about the only local history thing for many years that had massive distribution," Cohen said. "Before the Internet, he was the only candle in the darkness."
In 2006, Heritage Collaborative Inc. of Philadelphia honored him for his columns on preservation.
A longtime resident of Haddon Township, he had lived for the last 15 years in Sicklerville.
He was a volunteer with the Cathedral Kitchen in Camden, the website for which states that it has been "serving those in need since 1976."
As a member of the Knights of Columbus, he was a third degree member of the Santa Maria Council and a fourth degree member of the Bishop Eustace Assembly.
He was also a member of the Order Sons of Italy in America and the Philadelphia Press Association.
Besides his wife and son, he is survived by daughter Teresa Gericke, four grandchildren, and a great-grandson.
Services were Saturday, Dec. 12.
Donations may be sent to the Parish Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 135 N. White Horse Pike, Lindenwold, N.J. 08021, or to www.guadalupeshrinenj.org.
Condolences may be offered to the family at www.gardnerfuneralhome.com.