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Conrad E. Day, 1919/1920-2010
posted October 8, 2010

imageConrad Day, a longtime grocery store employee that drew cartoons for the local Cleveland Daily Banner for more than 30 years, passed away on October 5 in a hospital serving the southeastern Tennessee region where he lived. He was 90 years old. Once common to many local communities, cartoonists like Day, whose work was primarily seen and appreciated within the reach of his local newspaper, are widely considered a fading phenomenon. He was 90 years old.

In addition to his cartooning exploits, Day was well-known in Cleveland as a fixture of area grocery stores. He worked in father's A&P as a child. After being turned down for service in the military during World War II, Day eventually found his way back to the grocery business. He owned a Minit Check for a long period of time, and then went to work at stores in a chain owned by a schoolmate. The cartoon By Ned, featuring the folksy sayings of a gossipy, information-soaking old-timer, developed from a relationship with Daily Banner owner Lee Walls Sr. built at the grocery store. Walls suggested that Day take some of his cartoons to then-editor Beecher Hunter, and thus began the multiple-decade relationship between man and newspaper.

Day's cartoons seem to have primarily served as a delivery system for the lead character's wise sayings, making it one of those rare strips appropriately recalled in terms of its words rather than its pictures or a combination of the two. One such nugget: "I don't figger any idea that can be put in a nutshell can be much of an idea."

Day apparently self-syndicated the strip for a time to publications in and out of Tennessee but told an interviewer a decade he discontinued his relationship with clients other than the Banner because of the work involved. When he stopped producing new work, the Banner re-ran older cartoons under a "classic" banner.

In 2001, he self-published a collection of the strip, The Absolute Best Of By Ned. He held a signing in Cooke's Grocery Store.

Conrad Day is survived by a wife of 69 years and two sisters. He is preceded in death by a daughter. A funeral will be held today.