He was never a reporter or a photographer.

He began as a copyboy, after graduating from Cardinal Dougherty High School in 1959.

But he grew into one of the major photo editors at The Inquirer in the years when the newspaper was winning 17 Pulitzer Prizes between 1975 to 1990.

On Saturday, Francis J. Glackin Jr., 67, died of liver cancer at his Warminster home.

Gary Haynes, retired assistant managing editor for photo, said yesterday that "at the time The Inquirer became one of the nation's leading newspapers, he was the guy who held the fort in the lab and played a leadership role."

Before the advent of digital cameras, Inquirer photographers' film had to be processed in a laboratory just off the newspaper's fifth-floor newsroom.

Mr. Glackin joked that his job of running that lab, Haynes said, "was a bit like working in an adult day-care center," and at times "probably more difficult than herding cats."

In the 1970s and 1980s, Haynes recalled, photographers could not "always control the lighting and the circumstances" for a shoot, so pictures could be poorly exposed.

But, Haynes said, "Frank could coax a print [that] the paper could use out of a negative that everybody else gave up on."

Two of the 17 Pulitzer Prizes that The Inquirer won from 1975 to 1990 went to photographers, Haynes noted, and its 1997 Pulitzer was shared by a reporter and two photographers.

Haynes said that he sent Mr. Glackin to help cover a few major out-of-town stories where deadline pressure demanded a photo editor of his quality.

For instance, Haynes said, he sent Mr. Glackin to the Super Bowl in New Orleans in January 1981, where the Eagles lost to the Oakland Raiders, because of "how important it was that somebody organize the lab."

Photographers would shoot and hand off their rolls on the playing field to runners, who would race to the Inquirer photo lab, "and you would have to process [the film] quickly, edit it, caption it, and transmit it back to the paper," Haynes said.

Haynes said Mr. Glackin "was good because he could do anything." He retired in 2003.

Linda Petersen, one of Mr. Glackin's four children, said he shared an interest in antiques with his wife, Mary Ann, who died in 2006.

They owned a jewelry and antiques store in Roslyn, Montgomery County, in the 1970s, named Touch of Class, run by Mary Ann Glackin.

After they sold the store, Petersen said, the Glackins traveled to weekend antique shows in Florida, Maryland, and Virginia, buying and selling enough at their booths that "most of the time, it paid the bills."

Besides his daughter, Mr. Glackin is survived by a son, Francis J. 3d; daughters Bernadette Harkins and Patricia Hunter; four sisters; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

A visitation was set for noon Saturday at the Decker Funeral Home, 215 York Rd., Warminster, followed by a 1 p.m. funeral there. A private burial is planned.

Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or wnaedele@phillynews.com.