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Francis Joseph Geary

PVT in 603rd Engineer Camouflage Bn : Co B, 1st Platoon


Born 1905 in NJ


County of residence at enlistment: Union County, NJ
Other residence(s): Plainfield, NJ
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: artists, sculptors, and teachers of art
College education before the war: 2 years
Notes: PFC in New York Area Leave List
Source: 603rd Camouflage Engineer Roster provided by W. Anderson; WWII Army enlistment record; Company B Names and Addresses roster; 1920 census; Plainfield Courier News, 6/14/1927, 4/9/1934, 7/2/1935, 12/6/1944, 6/7/1946, 10/24/1956; 1940 draft record; 1957, 1960 Plainfield city directories; 1986 Social Security death index

Francis Geary was born on November 16, 1905 in Plainfield, NJ, the middle of three children. His father served as caretaker of the cemetery which was right behind their house; all four of his grandparents had been born in Ireland.

He graduated from Plainfield Grammar School in 1920, where he won honorable mention from the WCTU for English composition, as well as recognition for music appreciation. He graduated from Plainfield High School in 1924 and attended college for two years.

During the late 1920s and into the 1930s he was very involved with community theatre in Plainfield. He served as stage manager for the Community Players, chair of the production committee for the Plainfield Theatre Group, and head of production for St. Mary's Players. He also had a job working on miniature stage sets.

Some time before 1940 (possibly as early as 1930) he went to work in the New York Times art department. He was working there and living in Plainfield when he registered for the draft on October 16, 1940.

Francis enlisted on November 10, 1942 and, like many other New York city artists and art students, he found a home in the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion.

He was discharged from the Army with the rank of PFC and returned to Plainfield and his job at the New York Times. Shortly after his return, he gave a talk for the Westfield, NJ Art Association on "Camouflage in World War II," discussing his experiences in the Ghost Army.

He was still with the Times in 1956 when he spoke to the Plainfield College Club's drama group on Broadway costuming.

By 1957, he was using the name "Francis X" instead of "Francis J", and the Plainfield city directory billed him as "designer" instead of "artist" in 1957 and 1960.

Francis appeared to have had an ongoing dispute with the city of Plainfield over property taxes in the 1970s. Some time after his father's death in 1932, his family's property on the edge of the cemetery had been split up into several parcels among Francis and his brother (who died in 1944). He was still living in the house in which he was born, but the city was threatening tax sale and foreclosure on at least some of the property.

He died in October, 1986; he may have moved to New York before his death since his Social Security death record shows his last address as being in the zip code of Roosevelt Island.


1920 census

1920 article in the Plainfield Courier-News (NJ) re his graduation from grammar school

1924 article in the Plainfield Courier-News (NJ) re his graduation from high school

1927 article in the Plainfield Courier-News (NJ) re his participation in a theatre group

1930 census

1934 article in the Plainfield Courier-News (NJ) re his participation in a theatre group

1935 article in the Plainfield Courier-News (NJ) re his participation in a theatre group

1940 draft record

1942 enlistment record

1944 article in the Plainfield Courier-News (NJ); references Francis' military role

1946 article in the Plainfield Courier-News (NJ) re a speech he gave on his war experience

1956 article in the Plainfield Courier-News (NJ) re a speech he gave on Broadway costumes; he is still with NY Times

1957 Plainfield city directory

1960 Plainfield city directory

1977 article in the Plainfield Courier-News (NJ) re threatened foreclosure on his property for non-payment of taxes

1986 Social Security death index

updated: 1 month ago

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