Former longtime Courier News sports editor George Govlick died Friday at home in Pompton Plains. He was 96.
A native of South Plainfield, Govlick worked at the Courier News from 1954 to 1989, making the transition when the newspaper moved from downtown Plainfield to Route 22 in Bridgewater in 1971.
Govlick and his wife Sandra, known as Sandy, moved from Branchburg to Williamsburg, Virginia in 1998. Mrs. Govlick, a retired administrative assistant at Johnson & Johnson, died on Feb. 1, 2023.
Govlick returned to New Jersey after his wife’s death to live near his nephew Joseph Govlick Jr. and family.
George Govlick was born on May 10, 1927. He grew up in South Plainfield and graduated from Plainfield High School in 1945. He was drafted out of high school into the Army where he became a lieutenant.
He used the GI Bill to attend Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. His nephew said his uncle played baseball and football at the college. Not long after graduation Govlick began his long run at his “hometown” daily. His nephew recalled visiting his uncle in the downtown Plainfield office as a child.
“He wanted to live to be 100. It was an actual goal of his to live to be 100, but he just fell short,” said Joseph Govlick Jr., who lives in Kinnelon. “He was 96 before he decided that he wasn’t going to drive again; he was actually 96 and a half. He was as sharp as a tack. He was doing his own gardening, cutting the lawn.”
Govlick began his long career at the Courier News in 1954 as a reporter and eventually became sports editor. After retiring he worked several years as a freelancer for the paper.
His passion was golf – both playing and covering.
He covered the Giants between filling in on assignments of other sports and once appeared on a Channel 9 Saturday night show in the early 1980s with late Giants coach Ray Perkins. He also liked covering track and field and would contribute to the paper’s high school coverage. No matter the event he treated it as if he was covering the Super Bowl.
But it was clearly golf that was closest to his heart. One of his thrills were the three most recent times (1967, 1980, 1993) the U.S. Open was held at Baltusrol in Springfield.
Longtime Courier News sports writer Paul Franklin, currently a freelance contributor, called Govlick “one of a kind.”
“You could say I owe my sports writing career to George Govlick, taking a chance on a 22-year-old in April of 1970,” Franklin said. “With only a few high school freelance clips in my resume, I nonetheless found myself in the Madison Square Garden press box for Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Lakers – right into the deep end of the pool.
“I enjoyed his sense of humor; I can hear his laughter now, and see him chewing tiny wads of typewriter paper,” Franklin added.
Franklin said when he would head home after shifts, Govlick’s parting words were always, “Heading for the barn.”
“We often suspected he was on his way to play nine holes,” Franklin said.
When he and his wife moved to Virginia they lived in a house on a golf course – Ford’s Colony Williamsburg. He played nearly every day until just a few years ago, his nephew said.
“George’s house was on a peninsula of land so that there was a golf course in the front yard and a golf course in the backyard,” his nephew said.
He will be buried next to his wife at St. Bede Catholic Church Columbarium near Williamsburg, Virginia.