Cover photo for Norman Lear, Sr.'s Obituary
Norman Lear, Sr. Profile Photo

Norman Lear, Sr.

October 17, 1924 — June 13, 2020

Milford-Mr. Lear, “Joe”, 95 was born on October 17, 1924 at the Valley Baptist Hospital in Harlingen, Texas. He was the son of Mr. Edgar Hayes Lear, who was born in Hannibal, Missouri and Lola Belle Lear (nee Summers), who was born in Nacogdoches, Texas. In 1934, his family moved to San Antonio, Texas where he attended Mark Twain Junior High School and Brackenridge High School. While there he played trombone in the concert marching and ROTC bands and the orchestra. He graduated in 1942.

In November 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps at Duncan Field, Texas. He spent the years of WWII in various training schools1: Armament, aerial gunnery (for B-24), pilot training, and radar observer school (for P-61). At the conclusion of WWII, he left the service, then reenlisted. He has served from Hokkaido, Japan to Istanbul, Turkey. He spent 4 years in England with a USAF Fighter-Bomber Wing. He retired as a Senior Master Sergeant (E8) from the USAF in 1964 having completed 21 and a half years of active service. He was awarded two Air Force Commendation medals and numerous other awards and medals.

After retirement, he worked at the General foods plant, which was under construction in Dover. He started as a warehouse clerk and was soon promoted to the production scheduling department. In subsequent years, he managed the production scheduling and distribution of all the Bakers Coconut in the United States. He also became absorbed with the use of computers, particularly desktop computers, in managing all the data necessary to effectively us production resources. He retired from the Dover plant (then owned by Phillip Morris Corp) after 22 years of service in 1986.

Joe then became a student at Wesley College to learn more about computer applications and earned a Degree of Associate in Arts in 1992.

While at Wesley, he had become more interested in music and played trombone with the Wesley Jazz Band.  He started working as an assistant to the director of the Milford High School Band, Mr. Gerald Thompson. He made the comment to Mr. Thompson, “Now that I’m not at Wesley, I don’t have any place to play my trombone.” Mr. Thompson replied, “Why don’t you start a community band.” So in January 1990, he organized the Milford Community Band. He continued his association with the Milford High School Band for 23 years.

Joe taught 7th and 8th grade Sunday school for about 18 years at Avenue United Methodist Church. He was also involved in other aspects of the church, such as, Chair of the Stewardship Committee, Chair of the Counsel on Ministries, and the College Outreach program. He was instrumental in putting together the computer applications to manage the data of the church. He prepared the first AUMC webpage. He was a mentor for several young men. He was active in the United Methodist Men’s group. He was presented with the 1996 Lay Laureate Award. For his years of volunteer service, in 2000 he received the Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award.

His first wife, Alva Louise Lear (nee Nailor) passed away in 1988. They had been divorced. He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Mary Jo Lear whom he married on April 14, 1979. He is also survived by his son Norman Joe Lear, Jr., and his wife Charricia (Tracey) of Harrington. Granddaughter Jennifer Nicole Antonik and (husband Ben), great-grandchildren Dmitri, Delany, and Daphne. Granddaughter Jessica Christine Rash and (husband Kyle), great-grandchild Alex. Sister Frances Belle Borrbach of Cranberry Township, PA.; step-son Arthur McAuley (wife Patricia) of Pittsburgh, PA.; step-granddaughter Virginia McCoy (husband Chris) of Pittsburgh, PA.; step-great granddaughters Kaylin, Grace, and Evie. Step-granddaughter Mary Kate of Denver, Co.; step-daughter Margaret Campbell of Pittsburgh, PA.; step-granddaughter Anne O’Neil (husband Sean), step-great-granddaughter Quinn. Step-daughter Barbara Emery (husband Mark) of Herndon, VA.; step-grandson Jeffery of Herndon, step-grandson Patrick (wife Ellen). Step-great-granddaughters Isla, Fiona, and Lydia of Atlanta, GA.; Step-granddaughter Kara Josephine Brooks (husband Joe) of Atlanta, GA.

The  Milford Community Band will go on!

Services will be private.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his name may be made to When donating please mention it is for the Milford Community Band, Scholarship Fund.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Norman Lear, Sr., please visit our flower store.


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