Gerard J. Nolan, 86, Social Security office manager and marathon runner

Posted: October 02, 2013

THROUGH SUNSHINE, rain, cold, blizzard - whatever the weather might throw at him - Jerry Nolan walked five blocks to church every day to attend Mass.

"We had to dig him out of a snow drift once," said his niece Carolyn McDonald.

Jerry was a man secure not only in his faith, but in his footwork. He was a marathon runner into his 70s, and ran shorter races until he was almost 80, stopped only when he was hit by a car and broke a leg.

But whether he was running or not, Jerry was a presence at nearly every race of any consequence in the Philadelphia-South Jersey area as a volunteer, helping out wherever he could, and as the unofficial photographer with his handy Instamatic.

Gerard J. "Jerry" Nolan, a 35-year employee of the Social Security office in Glassboro, N.J., where he was a manager, a Navy veteran of World War II and an active member of the Catholic War Veterans, died Sept. 21 of cancer. He was 86 and lived in Juniata Park.

Jerry estimated that he ran more than 3,000 miles in a running career that didn't start until he was 50. He ran marathons in Philadelphia, New York and Boston, and shorter races like the 10-mile Broad Street Run.

He not only ran races, he also wrote about them. He was a longtime contributor to Runner's Gazette, and sent in calendar listings.

He was a member of the Northeast Road Runners Club and was club liaison for the Road Runners Club of America. He served on the Browning Ross Memorial Award Committee of the national group, and was instrumental in getting the South Jersey Athletic Club to join the RRCA.

Jerry was often honored for his service to the road-runner groups, including the President's Award from his Northeast club.

He was the longest serving member of the Mid-Atlantic Long Distance Running Committee, and missed only four meetings in 23 years.

Jerry was born in Philadelphia to Vincent and Marie Nolan. He graduated from Northeast Catholic High School for Boys and went on to graduate from La Salle University.

He enlisted in the Navy near the end of World War II and attained the rank of petty officer second class.

After his retirement from the Social Security office in 1985, Jerry went to Villanova University to earn a master's degree in history.

He was an avid reader, including newspapers. "He read every newspaper he could get his hands on, including the Daily News and Inquirer, and even the local weeklies," his niece said. "His family said he could read the print right off the page."

Jerry was a faithful member of Holy Innocents Church, at L Street and Hunting Park Avenue.

"He was the most generous, the most humble man who ever lived," his niece said. "He worried about everybody but himself. Everybody who met him fell in love with him."

"He had so many friends, some going back to grade school," his niece said. "He was an amazing man."

Jerry never married and had no immediate survivors.

Services: Were Saturday.

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