ART GEISELMAN reflected the anger and despair felt by the staff of the Philadelphia
that grim day in January 1982, when it was announced that the 134-year-old newspaper would close.
"Goddamn it, we had a good staff," he said. "We beat the Inquirer all the time, right up to the end. Our stories did more than any other newspaper's to effect social change in this town."
And one of the outstanding members of that damn good staff was Art Geiselman, a prizewinning newsman known for his aggressive reporting and the precision of his writing.
Art had brought his talents to the Bulletin from his award-winning stints on the York Gazette and Daily, the Baltimore Evening Sun and as an on-air TV broadcaster, then took them to the Daily News where he covered the suburbs.
Arthur W. Geiselman Jr. died Tuesday of the effects of a fall in a nursing home where he was being treated for Alzheimer's disease. He was 85 and lived in Sykesville, Md.
"I knew all about Art before he came to the Bulletin," said Peggy Higgins, who worked with Art at both the Bulletin and the Daily News. "To me, he was a celebrity."
Art had already won a number of reporting awards, as well as the coveted Nieman Fellowship for a year's study at Harvard.
"As a reporter, he was so precise," Peggy said. "He checked every detail. You knew his information was solid.
"His interviewing style was never confrontational. He knew if people were relaxed, they would be more open. A lot of times they told him more than they realized."
Art's life was in many ways an American adventure, including riding the rails and hitchhiking around the country while nursing a broken heart from the early death of his first wife.
While serving in the Navy in World War II, his ship, the USS Duncan, a destroyer escort, sank a German submarine off Nova Scotia.
"He always wanted to look up the families of the German sailors to apologize," said his wife, the former Helen Stambaugh. "He never could find them, but that tells you what kind of a guy he was.
"He was a good guy. You just couldn't find a better man than Art."
While at the Bulletin, Art won first prize from the Philadelphia Press Association in 1980 for best reporting for a series on the Traffic Court.
As a Daily News correspondent, covering the Philadelphia suburbs, Art was charged with harassment and threatened with arrest in 1983 while investigating possible collusion between Norristown officials and a video game store.
He wrote about a variety of subjects, frequently turning up compelling stories in an area not famous for drama. He wrote about feuding lawyers in Delaware County, a sewage crisis in Horsham, wrongdoing by cops in Jenkintown, racial attacks in Roslyn, including a firebombing, a family feud that led to murder in Abington, and more of the same.
He left the Daily News in 1984, and took a job as a reporter for the Albuquerque Journal in New Mexico, where he remained for 21 years and won a general reporting award from the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi. He retired at the age of 72.
Art Geiselman was born and raised in York, Pa., and got his early education there. After his Navy service, he earned a degree from Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa.
His first wife, Gloria Gilbert, whom he married when she was a teenager and he was in his early 20s, died at the age of 19 of Bright's disease.
Heartbroken, Art and a friend spent a couple of years hitchhiking and riding freight cars around the country. Finally, settling down, his grandfather, Jay Good, editor of the York Gazette and Daily encouraged him to apply there for a job.
It was on the paper that he met his second wife, who had also applied for a job. They were married in 1953.
Art had a special hatred of racial discrimination and hit upon a daring idea to expose it in York County.
He took a white man and a black man to swimming pools and other places he knew discriminated against blacks, then wrote about his experiences.
He was honored with two Heywood Broun Memorial Awards, given by the American Newspaper Guild for stories on behalf of the oppressed.
He left the York paper in 1965 to take a job with the Baltimore Evening Sun. When the pressmen went on strike in the '70s, he moved to station WBAL-TV where he delivered his news on camera for about seven years. He later did the same for WTOP-TV in Washington, D.C. While in Albuquerque, he began to suffer from the effects of Alzheimer's and entered a nursing home. He later entered a facility in Maryland.
Besides his wife, Art is survived by four daughters, Susan, Elizabeth, Carrie Jane and Abigail Geiselman; seven grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Services: A memorial service will be arranged after the holidays.