David Gredler, at 84; longtime Globe copy editor, poet, builder of dulcimers
With his green visor, intense manner, and casual dress, David Gredler could have answered a Hollywood casting call for newspaper copy editors from earlier times.
Instead, he plied his trade as one of the editors who sat around a wooden horseshoe-shaped desk in the Globe newsroom, vetting copy filed by reporters before the stories went into the paper.
“Dave was a droll, tactful editor who kept a low profile,’’ said Dave Richwine, chief zones copy editor for the Globe, who was a Metro reporter in the 1970s. “When a writer saw Gredler ambling his way in the newsroom, holding a long story pasted together page-to-page, he knew it was in good hands. Dave’s goal was always to improve articles for the readers’ benefit, never to gloat over the mistakes he found. He’d quietly work with the writer, sometimes line by line, to achieve that goal.’’
Mr. Gredler, who retired from the Globe in 1986 after 32 years as an editor, died Aug. 28 in South Shore Hospital in Weymouth more than three years after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 84 and had lived in Norwell for 51 years.
John S. Driscoll worked with Mr. Gredler on the night copy desk for 15 years and later was the Globe’s top editor.
“Dave was a sound copy editor who was very quiet, but had a wry sense of humor,’’ Driscoll said. “He found his niche handling photos and writing captions. Captions usually are cryptic, but Dave had a knack for lending style to the writing.’’
In retirement, Mr. Gredler became well-known for his gravestone rubbings and for composing music to go with each one. He also built dulcimers and wrote poetry.
“I can make them better than I can play them,’’ he told The Patriot Ledger of Quincy in a 1997 interview in which he described himself as “a closet musician.’’
“Dave was a stickler for detail and, as a coworker, was always entertaining,’’ said Tom Long of Hudson, N.H., the Globe’s former chief obituary writer.
William Harting of Plymouth, a former Globe layout editor, recalled Mr. Gredler as “a very quiet guy and a bit of a character.’’
Mr. Gredler’s daughter, Lisa E. Morison of Bath, Maine, said her father was always interested in photography and was rarely without a camera handy.
“Dad was a quiet, humble man who led a simple life and was able to devote more time to his photography and other interests after his retirement,’’ she said.
Mr. Gredler became interested in dulcimers after seeing them at a holiday fair at the Hanover Mall more than 20 years ago.
“Although Gredler has spent years making dulcimers,’’ , the Ledger reported, “his attention more recently has focused on composing a collection of songs using inscriptions and epitaphs from early graves as lyrics.’’
Mr. Gredler told the Ledger that his interest in tombstone writings could be deceptive: “You would never know by the somber themes that I am really concerned with the development of human life and the well-being of people, young and old.’’
He said in the interview that he was inspired to compose songs to go with the gravestone rubbings in 1990 when he took “a workshop on gravestone designs at a folk festival in Dartmouth.’’
Copies of the five small volumes of Mr. Gredler’s songs are on file in Norwell at the public library on South Street and at the historical library at the Goldman school, the Ledger reported.
Had Mr. Gredler not gone into newspaper work, he might have followed both his parents into ministry. Prior to becoming a journalist, he took divinity courses, his family said.
David Earle Gredler was born in Ithaca, N.Y., the youngest of three sons of the Rev. Hazel (Rogers) Gredler and the Rev. Frank S. Gredler.
He attended schools in Ithaca, Hingham, Norton, and at Deerfield Academy in Deerfield.
His family said he briefly studied at what was then Tufts College and at Harvard Divinity School.
In 1951, he graduated from Northeastern University with a major in history and government. While at Northeastern, he worked as a student co-op at the Boston Traveler.
He also attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and did graduate work in journalism at Boston University, his family said.
Prior to working at the Globe, Mr. Gredler worked at the Cape Cod Standard-Times. He began his career at the Boston Globe in 1954 and retired in 1986.
His marriage ended in divorce.
Matthew Gredler of Yarmouth, Maine, said his father “taught his children to be frugal. He taught us the importance of a good education, and not to live beyond our means.’’
In addition to his daughter and his son, Mr. Gredler leaves another son, Richard of Lakeville; two brothers, Charles of Culpeper, Va., and Gilbert of Columbia, S.C.; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in First Parish Church in Norwell. Burial will be private.
Mr. Gredler’s music and poetry will be part of the service. The last verse of his poem “The Time of Song’’ reads:
And if ever I become that stylish poet I will harmonize my growing love,
As sounds the birdie at window slightly raised who heard my strings and melody
And flew to the sunbathed sill to sing with me our soaring descant destiny.
Gloria Negri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.