Longtime Journal editor, ‘an icon’ of local sports, dies at 97

MIDDLETOWN — The face of the Middletown Journal’s sports department for more than six decades has died.

Jerry Nardiello, who worked as sports writer, sports editor and sports editor emeritus at The Journal for 61 years, died Friday at Hospice Care of Butler and Warren Counties. He was 97.

A Word War II veteran, Nardiello, born on Veterans Day, was hired at the Journal on Aug. 10, 1947 and planned to get six months experience, then find another job. Six months turned in to 61 years.

“That’s how fast it happened," Nardiello once said.

During his time at the Journal, Nardiello covered the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals, Ohio State football and basketball, Miami University football and basketball and Middletown High School athletics. His regularly wrote his “Off The Bench” columns.

He also worked as director of media relations at Lebanon Raceway.

Nardiello and Jerry Lucas will be forever linked. Nardiello covered Lucas throughout his high school, college and professional career and wrote the first article on Lucas when he was in junior high. Nardiello covered every high school game Lucas played, including the 76-game winning streak and back-to-back state championships.

“He’s an icon in Middletown,” Lucas said. “I really enjoyed our relationship for decades."

Lucas said he has written a book, “Middie Magic and Mind Magic,” that should be available this year, and Nardiello is prominently mentioned throughout the book.

“He will be remembered forever as far as I’m concerned," said Lucas, 80.

Mark Berry, a former Journal sports editor, called Nardiello “a tremendous advocate” for Middletown and “an Ohio newspaper legend.”

He was an old-school newspaperman who cared about the community and the people and teams he covered, Berry said.

“Middletown lost a great one,” he said.

Michael Williams, former editorial page editor of the Journal, said the industry will likely never see any one person in the field of local journalism duplicate the “longevity and excellent work” that Nardiello represented.

“Nor will we likely see anyone earn the respect and admiration that so many of us have for Jerry Nardiello," he said.

He and former Hamilton JournalNews sports editor Bill Moeller founded the Butler County Sports Hall of Fame, and Nardiello was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1997.

He has also been inducted into the Pigskin-Roundball Spectacular Gold Medal Club, Southwest District Athletic Board Hall of Fame and the Cincinnati Society of Professional Journalists.

In 2012, the scorer’s table at Wade E. Miller Gym — where Nardiello spent many Friday nights — was named in his honor.

He’s survived by his wife of 69 years, Winnie; and two daughters, Catherine and Mary Anne. The family will hold private services and arrangements are being handled by Wilson-Schramm-Spaulding Funeral Home.

Credit: Submitted

Credit: Submitted

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