Conrad Day of ‘By Ned’ dies at 90
by GWEN SWIGER, Associate Editor
Oct 06, 2010 | 1762 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CARTOONIST DIES — Cleveland’s own Conrad Day, creator of the popular ‘By Ned’ cartoon published in the Cleveland Daily Banner, died Tuesday at age 90. Banner file photo, GWEN SWIGER
CARTOONIST DIES — Cleveland’s own Conrad Day, creator of the popular ‘By Ned’ cartoon published in the Cleveland Daily Banner, died Tuesday at age 90. Banner file photo, GWEN SWIGER
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“The worst part about life is that it comes without a diagram or book of instructions,” according to the comfortable old fella of the “By Ned” cartoons.

On Tuesday morning, By Ned’s creator, Conrad Day, 90, died at a local hospital.

For more than 30 years, the comfortable wisdom and antics of Day’s cob-pipe smoking, overall-attired comic character “By Ned” has graced the pages of the Banner. He had his cartoon syndicated in several states, but said there was too much work attached to syndicating a strip. He restricted his work to the Banner.

When Day ceased to do new cartoons, he allowed the Banner to rerun his panels as “By Ned Classics.”

In an interview in 2001, Day said he took the ideas for his cartoons from “people and events” around him. “Life offers so many ideas.”

And Day had plenty of opportunities to observe people at their best and worst. For most of his life, he worked in grocery stores. For 15 years in the 1980s and 1990s, he was a fixture at the Cooke’s Food Store, first downtown and then at the location on Keith Street.

Day said his first grocery store job was at age 9, when he “stood on apple boxes to ground coffee” in an A&P store run by his father.

During World War II, he was turned down for service; so he got a job with the TNT plant in Chattanooga. After the war, he went back to work in the grocery business. He owned a Minit Check on North Lee Highway, until he “got tired of working seven days a week.”

Day patterned the character in his “By Ned” panel on a man who “came by my store. ... everything he said would be by Ned this and by Ned that.”

In the interview, Day explained that “by Ned is an old fellow about town — he walks up and down this back fence every day gathering bits of information and gossip and he passes it on to his reader.

In 2001, he collected “The Best of By Ned” into a book.

He was married to his wife, Josephine “Jo,” for 69 years. They had one daughter, Connie Day, who died in 2002. Besides his wife, he is survived by two sisters: Beatrice Ragsdale and Fatina Murray; and nephews and nieces.

He was a member at Broad Street United Methodist Church for more than 80 years.

He was also a 50-year member of the Cleveland Masonic Lodge and a member of the Cleveland Hunting, Rifle and Pistol Club.

The funeral will be held Friday at 2 p.m. at Broad Street United Methodist church. The family will receive friends Thursday, 5 to 7 p.m., at Grissom Funeral Home and Friday 1 to 2 p.m. at Broad Street United Methodist Church.

Among his classic “By Ned” lines are:

“By the time you think you’re getting closer to the light at the end of the tunnel — some smart alec digs it a little longer!”

“I don’t figger any idea that can be put in a nutshell can be much of an idea.”

“Strange how we expect the Lord to stay on the job for us 24 hours a day — But we’re only willin’ to give him a few hours one day a week.”

“One secret of success seems to be to let someone else just barge right on in there and make all the mistakes that you can learn from.”

“Strange how the person you always turn to when you are sad is the same person you turn to when things are glad!”