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George H. Braceland, 96, lifelong fan of fitness

When George H. Braceland turned 50 in 1963, a YMCA trainer advised him that his workouts weren't enough to counter the stress of running his family firm.

When George H. Braceland turned 50 in 1963, a YMCA trainer advised him that his workouts weren't enough to counter the stress of running his family firm.

So with the energy that he put into working seven days a week, Mr. Braceland began training for the 26-mile Boston Marathon.

"After work," The Inquirer's Art Carey reported in 2002, "he'd run two laps around the river-drive loops, about 18 miles.

"Once or twice a week, he'd run from the company printing plant in Hunting Park to his home in Drexel Hill - a 12-mile jaunt."

In April 1964, Mr. Braceland ran the Boston Marathon in three hours and 45 minutes, beginning decades of track and field accomplishments remarkable for an older man.

On Thursday, June 10, Mr. Braceland, 96, of Drexel Hill, an owner of his family's Philadelphia printing firm from 1947 to 1992, died of aspiration pneumonia at the Saunders House, a long-term-care center in Wynnewood, where he had lived for three years.

Born in West Philadelphia, Mr. Braceland graduated in 1932 from West Catholic High School, where he was on the varsity football, basketball, and track and field teams but, his son John said, "wasn't any real outstanding star."

From 1942 to 1946, he was a mapmaker in the Army Air Corps, assigned to South America.

Mr. Braceland and his brother, William, bought Braceland Bros. from his father in 1947, and by the 1980s, his son John said, the firm also had plants in Atlanta; Franconia and Newport News, Va.; and Steubenville, Ohio.

Mr. Braceland's son said that after his father sold him the firm in 1992, he sold it in 2000.

But while still running the firm, Carey reported, Mr. Braceland ran and ran.

"He not only competed, he dominated," Carey wrote. "When Braceland showed up, others despaired. They knew he would mop up in his age group."

Carey wrote that Mr. Braceland "didn't compete in just two or three events. He routinely signed up for eight to 10, pulling off a veritable one-day decathlon - running the 100 meters, the 400 meters, the 800 meters, the 110-meter hurdles, the 400-meter hurdles, throwing the shot, the javelin, the discus, entering all the jumps (high, long and triple) as well as the pole vault."

Mr. Braceland told Carey: "My body is made of iron. I never get tired."

Carey wrote that "one of his sweetest moments came in 1973, when he beat U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston (a former IC4A sprinting champ) in the 100-yard dash for men over 55 at the Penn Relays."

Carey reported that in 2001, "USA Track & Field, the sport's governing body, elected him to the Masters Hall of Fame."

Mr. Braceland's "real secret: relentless training . . . hurdling in the dark or by moonlight on the track at Haverford College or Cardinal O'Hara High School."

He had a few other accomplishments, his son said.

At 65, he earned a black belt in karate.

In the 1970s, he joined the Malta Boat Club on Boathouse Row and in 2004 "was the indoor rowing heavyweight champion for age 90."

When Carey visited him for the 2002 story, he wrote that Mr. Braceland, at age 88, "dropped to the kitchen floor and did 10 push-ups - clapping his hands between reps."

Besides son John, Mr. Braceland is survived by daughters Pamela Kaplan and Diane Vreudenhil, a brother, eight grandchildren, and a great-grandson. His wife, Evelyn, died in 1984.

A life celebration was set for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 15 at Spencer T. Videon Funeral Home, Garrett Road at Shadeland Avenue, Drexel Hill.

It is to be followed by an 11 a.m. Funeral Mass at St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church, 1035 Turner Ave., Drexel Hill, with burial in SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Springfield, Delaware County.