BANGOR, Maine — A longtime former employee of the Bangor Daily News respected for his ability to adapt to rapid changes in newspaper technology and loved for his wit died this week at the age of 77.
Perley A. York of Bucksport died Wednesday at a Bangor hospital, leaving behind his wife, Tina, 11 children, 23 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren, according to his obituary.
York’s career with the BDN spanned 40 years — from July 1956, when he was hired after serving with the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, through March 1996, when he retired as a journeyman printer.
During his 40 years at the BDN, York managed to roll with the changes as the dying art of hot lead type was replaced by newer methods and eventually by computers.
“It has come from a real crude, basic way of doing it with just metals to a computer artist that can do things right there on the computer screen,” York said at the time of his retirement.
Jim Harris of Hermon, a pressman who worked with York for decades before his own retirement after a 42-year career — 30 of those years in the newspaper’s composing room with York — agreed.
“Some people don’t like change, but change didn’t bother him a bit,” Harris said Thursday.
“He was an excellent worker, very dedicated, a very nice guy,” Harris said of York.
Joe Brooks of Winterport, who retired from the BDN after a 35-year career, recalled York on Thursday as a “very dear friend for almost 50 years. He was one of the first people I met when I started working at the NEWS in 1961.”
Brooks remembered York as a “very talented guy,” an avid sportsman, devout Catholic and volunteer for numerous causes, including the Special Olympics. He also said that he and York were among about half a dozen BDN employees who liked to “sneak up behind people and sing ‘Happy Birthday,’” Brooks said. “Our voices weren’t the best, at least mine wasn’t, but people really enjoyed it.”
York also was known for his freely dispensed hugs and for his mastery of Chinese cooking, which he shared every couple of months with members of a press club that met in Brewer, Brooks said.
Interests that York and Brooks shared were hunting and fishing, activities York enjoyed until recently, Brooks said.
“He had always wanted to shoot a big buck,” Brooks said Thursday. Several years ago, York finally got his chance, bagging a big one in Benton Swamp. The two men had to drag the buck 3½ miles through thick alders and soggy terrain.
“It took us from dawn to dusk,” Brooks recalled with a chuckle.
Visiting hours are scheduled for 6-8 p.m. today at Mitchell-Tweedie Funeral Home in Bucksport. A funeral Mass is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Bucksport.