Daryl Gale, 55, Philadelphia Tribune city editor, columnist

Posted: June 18, 2014

THE RECENT upheavals at John Bartram High School in the city's Elmwood section - the brawling in the halls, classroom disruptions, marijuana in the bathrooms - have upset anyone concerned about public education in the city.

No one was more concerned than Daryl Gale, city editor and columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune. Bartram was his alma mater. He had been proud of his school. He wanted the best for it, and what was happening pained him deeply.

But more than almost anyone, Daryl was in a position to express his pain in public. In addition to running the city desk of the nation's oldest African-American newspaper, his incisive weekly column didn't pull any punches on issues he felt strongly about.

At a recent editorial-board meeting, Daryl talked about his intention to write about the plight of his alma mater.

He didn't get the chance.

Daryl Gale, described by colleagues as an old-school newsman reminiscent of the tough, demanding editors who ran newspapers in a nearly forgotten era, died last week at age 55.

It was not known when he died, but his body was found in his apartment in Deptford, N.J., on Thursday after he failed to show up for work. The cause of death was not known.

He had moved to New Jersey from South Philadelphia last year.

"If you didn't know him, you could misunderstand him," said Tribune president and CEO Robert W. Bogle. "He was opinionated and abrupt, but once you passed that veneer you found a professional who wrote the best column this newspaper ever had.

"He enjoyed his work. He always found good things about journalism, about people. Sometimes he found humorous ways to be critical."

"He was passionate about writing, about the craft of writing," said Tribune managing editor Irv Randolph. "He took no prisoners in his column. But he could rip you with a stinging sense of humor."

Irv talked about how upset Daryl had been by the recent developments at Bartram High, from which he graduated in 1976.

"He was a proud graduate of Bartram," Irv said. "He wanted to write a column about Bartram. He wanted to write about what went wrong. He felt it had to be dealt with in a column and not just in news stories. It would have been a great column."

Daryl's main targets were local politicians, particularly African-American politicians, leaders of the school system and others whom he held to high standards of behavior, Irv said.

"He wrote mostly about local issues, but also got into state and national topics," Irv said. "We had many discussions about city politics and the educational system."

No one knew the city better than Daryl, said Damon C. Williams, a Tribune reporter who formerly wrote for the Daily News. "I would ask him who this person was that I was writing about, and he'd give me a 15-minute bio off the top of his head," Damon said.

"If you wanted to succeed in journalism, you needed an editor like Daryl to push and drive you. He was a no-nonsense editor. He didn't have much patience for excuses.

"He always wanted to get the story. He had disdain for how journalism is run now. He expected more out of you. He knew when you could give a little bit more. We're losing guys like that."

Daryl came to the Tribune from a varied career that included a position as communications director for the campaign of Seth Williams for Philadelphia district attorney in 2009, and talk-show host at radio station WURD.

He had been a photojournalist in the U.S. Coast Guard, for which he wrote award-winning articles and took photos for military journals, including Stars and Stripes.

After his Coast Guard service, Daryl worked as a junior reporter for the Miami Times, a columnist and senior writer for the Philadelphia City Paper, editor of the First World Forum magazine, public-affairs coordinator for the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, senior editor of Target Marketing Magazine, and writer and media consultant for Ross Associates, a political-consulting firm.

Daryl had been a Tribune columnist since 2006, and became city editor in 2011.

Damon Williams said that "while we do miss him dearly, one thing is certain: Heaven just got one hell of an assignment editor."

Daryl is survived by a daughter, Kristen Gale.

Services: Memorial service 11 a.m. Friday, June 27, at First District Plaza, 3801 Market St.

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