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Jack Garner, longtime Gannett News Service film critic, dies at 75

  • July 06, 2020
Movie critic Jack Garner.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Jack Garner, who for decades served as the Gannett News Service film critic, died Sunday at the age of 75.

Known for reviews that brought both a critic’s eye and a movie lover’s tastes, Garner was a fixture in Rochester’s art circles for decades. A jazz aficionado, he often introduced some of the annual Jazz Festival’s top acts. A trustee at the Eastman Museum, he was the second recipient of the museum’s prestigious George Eastman Medal of Honor.

He also was very hard to miss in a crowd — standing 6-foot-9.

“The glass was always half full with him,” his wife, Bonnie, said Sunday. “It was never half empty.”

She and Garner would have celebrated their 50th anniversary next month. A couple that loved to travel — a South African trip this year was cut short by COVID-19 — they were planning international trips after the end of the pandemic.

“We had a good good life together,” she said.

Even his movie reviews reflected Garner’s outlook on life, and his effervescent optimism. Garner would try to find a nugget of something refreshing even in films that were largely panned. 

“When he was a movie critic, he always tried to find the good in anything he saw,” Bonnie said. “He was always very upbeat.

“He had 2,500 Facebook friends, for crying out loud. They appreciated his opinion.”

Garner began reviewing films for the Democrat and Chronicle in 1977, starting with the original “Star Wars.” A decade later he was chosen the chief film critic for Gannett newspapers, and provided reviews for more than 100 newspapers.

He retired in 2007.

Garner graduated from St. Bonaventure University and had a master’s from Syracuse Universityy. He joined the Rochester Times-Unionin 1970, working as a “rewrite” editor — a role in which an individual gathers up incoming reports from a single event and weaves them into a story. Garner handled rewrite for some of the Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage from the Times-Unionof the 1971 Attica uprising.

(This story will be updated. Please visit DemocratandChronicle.com later for the updated version.)

Contact Gary Craig at gcraig@gannett.com or at 585-258-2479. Follow him on Twitter at gcraig1. This coverage is only possible with support from readers. Sign up today for a digital subscription.

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