|Frank Tyger - Cartoonist,
Tribute published in Mercer Business magazine - June 2011
|"Tyger, Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye.
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
- William Blake, 1794
This first paragraph of Blake's poem was undoubtedly the inspiration for the title of Frank Tyger's column, "Burning Bright," which ran in Mercer Business magazine for nearly 40 years. The spelling used in the original poem was in fact as it is quoted above, something of which I am pretty sure the astute and immensely talented Frank Tyger undoubtedly was aware.
Tyger, who passed away from Parkinson's Disease May 2 at the age of 81 was what is becoming that rarest of journalistic birds; one for whom his sense of duty to impart wisdom, spotlight important organizations and issues and also to make people laugh kept him at it daily for more than half his life. He didn't have the Internet to help him to shade his columns or cartoons with information at the click of a mouse, but rather, he pounded the pavement and interacted with all facets of the community he was clearly so proud to be a part of; as a voice for those without one and those in need.
Born in Brooklyn, New York on December 24, 1929, Frank showed at an early age a gift for drawing. He would sketch family members when they came for a visit, and wound up graduating from the City College of New York and the Cartoonists and Illustrators School.
After a two-year stint in the Army, Frank settled with his family in Trenton where his family moved in1950, after his father was relocated there with Baxter Clothes, a retail store. Frank worked in retail for a few years and then landed a job with the Albert Finkle Advertising Agency in Trenton. Those years proved formative in nurturing both his writing and drawing abilities.
Frank had his first cartoon published in the Saturday Evening Post in 1954, a feat that any artist or writer would certainly consider a crowning achievement, but according to those who knew him well, he never bragged or tooted his own horn.
In 1962 he was hired by the Trenton Times as a promotional manager and cartoonist. During his 35 year tenure there, he also authored a weekly column of puns, many of which he had written as well as others he found amusing and insightful.
Also during this time, Frank was heavily involved in the Mercer County Chamber of Commerce; serving as both vice-chairman and then chairman of the Mercer Business magazine committee.
Former editor of Mercer Business magazine. Gene Sayko noted Frank's steadfast commitment and integrity.
"Professionally, I had known him since 1964 when I joined the Trenton Times, and took over Mercer Business in 1982 when he was vice chair of the magazine committee. Whoever said, 'Nice guys finish last,' never met Frank, who dispelled that idea," says Sayko.
"He was always a gentleman, a true professional and a good writer. More importantly, he was a good listener and communicator who stood by you if he felt you were right on issues. Many fans of Mercer Business, as well as myself really enjoyed his Burning Bright column in the magazine, which appeared for almost 40 years or so. His wit in that column was something to behold."
Ed Meara, publisher emeritus of Mercer Business remembered his friend and colleague with warmth and a chuckle. "He was a good man, and an immensely talented guy," Meara noted.
"A good writer and excellent cartoonist, he was also the most modest man I have ever known. Frank had many achievements but you would never know it by talking to him. He could put together a comic in 15 minutes if the chamber called and requested one in a hurry.
"He loved his job, and he loved Trenton, and he will be missed," Meara said.
Retired bank executive Jean Turano, an emeritus member of the magazine committee, herself a gifted writer and editor also noted Frank's integrity and humility.
"For a man of his station, he was very humble. He was a very kind, thoughtful and generous man. His work was such that it survived over the changing years and is still relevant today."
Frank never married but was a devoted brother, uncle and great-uncle, all of whom have written touching testimonials about him on a tribute website www.franktyger.info.
Sayko likely spoke for all who knew Frank Tyger both personally and professionally, when he said, "I like to think Frank is "Burning Bright" in the heavens right now and is still keeping 'em laughing."
"Good friends are
like shock absorbers. They help you take the lumps and bumps on the road of life."