CONDON, GEORGE E. (November 6, 1916 - October 7, 2011) was a journalist for the PLAIN DEALER and a teller of Cleveland tales. One of eight siblings, he was born in Fall River, MA, to immigrants John J. Condon (from County Waterford, Ireland) and Mary (O’Malley) Condon (from Blackburn, Lancashire, England).
In 1927, when Condon was 11 years old, his family moved to a double house on West 32nd Street in “Little Achill,” an Irish community in Cleveland’s OHIO CITY neighborhood. He attended the nearby ST. PATRICK School on Bridge Avenue before going to West Tech High School, where he graduated from in 1935.
After high school, Condon worked at the Atlas Display Fixture Company for $5 a week and unlimited streetcar passes. Low tuition rates allowed him to attend the Ohio State University School of Journalism. As a student editor for OSU’s Daily Lantern, he met Marjorie Philona Smith. They married a year after he graduated, in 1942.
Condon joined his hometown Plain Dealer newspaper in 1943 as a general assignment reporter for a salary of $50 a week, a higher-than-average wage for a newspaper employee at the time. In 1948, he became the paper’s first TV and radio critic, writing seven days a week in that capacity until 1962. After relinquishing his position as TV critic, he produced a popular daily column five times a week until his retirement from the paper in 1985.
In 1967, Condon published an anecdotal history entitled Cleveland: The Best Kept Secret. He would subsequently produce eleven books of lore from the pages of Cleveland history, including Laughter from the Rafters (1968), Stars in the Water: The Story of the Erie Canal (1974), Gaels of Laughter and Tears, West of the Cuyahoga (2006), and a photographic history called Yesterday's Cleveland (1976). Condon continued to write in this vein after his retirement from the Plain Dealer.
Condon received the Cleveland Arts Prize in 1975, earned the Distinguished Service Award of the Society of Professional Journalists in 1980, and was inducted into the PRESS CLUB OF CLEVELAND’s JOURNALISM HALL OF FAME in 1990. He was also a recipient of the Emily Gray Burke Memorial Award, Ohioana Award for history, the Cleveland WOMEN’S CITY CLUB Award for Literature and the 2007 WALKS OF LIFE AWARD from the Irish American Archives Society.
George Condon was married to his wife Marjorie (Smith) Condon until her death in 2001. Together they had seven children: Theresa Ann Condon; Mary Katherine; John Raymond ; George Jr.; Katherine Elizabeth Condon; Mary Philona Brereton and Susan Condon Love. George Jr and Susan would follow in their father’s footsteps as journalists, with the former serving as the Washington Bureau chief with Copley News Service and the latter as the Plain Dealer Homes editor and weekly columnist. Condon Sr. died on October 7, 2011, in WESTLAKE at the age of 94 and is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in BROOK PARK, OH.
Daniel Brennan and David Patrick Ryan