Gerald Segal, an advertising support staffer who rarely missed a day of work in more than 50 years at the Daily News has died after a brief retirement. He was 78.
His sister, Evelyn Summer, said Segal died Oct. 1 after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Summer said her brother got his work ethic from their Holocaust surviving parents, who made their way through the rough-and-tumble neighborhoods of New York as immigrants from Europe, starting from scratch, like most refugees. Their father was a house painter, and their mother taught dance.
“They were poor,” Summer said. “He grew up learning from my parents that you need to take life seriously and you need to work hard.
“He hardly ever took a day off. No matter how he was feeling he was going to get to work. He took it very seriously.”
For Segal, days off were rare. Advertising executives and newsroom editors could always count on the kindly, affable worker everyone knew as “Gerry” to sort important mail and unearth valuable back copies thought to be missing forever.
Summer said she thinks that Segal’s ability to find things was connected to his penchant for being a hoarder, a trait she abhorred until she understood Segal’s sentimental side.
The conflict came to a head several years ago when Segal, who lived alone in Flushing, Queens, got very sick with pneumonia at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
After Segal spent months in a rehabilitation facility, Summer came by his home to help nurse her brother back to health. While she was there, she cleaned his apartment, and threw away some of his stuff.
Segal, she said, was not happy.
“He was somebody who saved everything,” Summer said. “Some things were important, and some things were not so important. But in his own way he was very organized.”
Since Segal’s death, Summer finds herself again going through her brother’s belongings. She said the task has distracted her from her grief.
“I think it has not totally hit me,” she said.
Among the things Summer found was Segal’s wallet, which contained a laminated identification card from the Daily News.
That would not have been surprising since Segal retired only three years ago. But the ID card she found had been issued more than 50 years ago, when Segal began his career at the Daily News.
“He really was devoted to the Daily News,” Summer said. “That was his only job for 50 years.”
Summer said her brother loved plants and filled the windows of his apartment with flower pots. He spent much of his spare time visiting parks in Queens and Nassau County.
Segal is survived by his sister, brother-in-law, nephew, great niece, and great nephew.