Jean R. Geiger, 94: Advertising pioneer
BATH — Jean Roberts Geiger, 94, formerly of Harpswell, died July 31 at Hillhouse Assisted Living.
Born April 17, 1919, she was a graduate of Millburn High School in New Jersey and an alumna of Colby-Sawyer College, in New London, N.H.
She married Robert Geiger in 1950, and they lived for many years in Millington, N.J., before moving to their home on Lombos Hole Road in Harpswell.
Geiger started her career as a general assignment reporter for the now-defunct Newark Evening News, then New Jersey’s largest daily newspaper, becoming a feature writer and the first woman to head one of its suburban editorial bureaus. She later was director of public relations for United Hospitals of Newark, a merger of three specialty hospitals with a general hospital, creating the largest hospital organization in New Jersey.
In 1967 she became director of communications for the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now the University of Medicine and Dentistry). The Newark riots soon tested Geiger’s public relations skills, as some thought the riots stemmed from the college's purchase of large amounts of property where African-Americans had lived. However, one of the outcomes of the conflict was the creation of a dialogue between black residents of the area and the medical community.
Geiger later worked at Blue Shield of New Jersey, heading a department that was responsible for advertising, promotion, public and press relations, publications and health education. The health plan was the fourth-largest in the nation at that time.
In 1983, Geiger became the first woman elected to the New Jersey Advertising Hall of Fame. She earned the distinction after helping to form the New Jersey Advertising Council, which creates pro bono advertising for nonprofit organizations through member agencies.
Geiger was the mother of six children and had 15 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Her children are Merritt Lum Budd, of West Rutland, Vt., David W. Budd, of Tewksbury, N.J., Pamela Lawrence Corvi, of Stroudsburg, Pa., and Palm City, Fla., Stephen R. Geiger, of Cold Spring, N.Y., Mark C. Geiger, of Arrowsic, and Lauren Geiger Moye, of Montpelier, Vt..
Her husband, her brother Dubois Roberts and her granddaughter Laura Budd predeceased her.
Geiger loved her husband, the coast of Maine, bourbon and water on the rocks, old houses, antiques, reading the New York Times, and her house, Second Wind, overlooking Casco Bay. She also enjoyed parties, entertaining, tailgate picnics, college football games and late-night swims. She was a creative thinker, a good writer and a problem solver. She was a life-long and proud member of the Democratic party.
The Geiger-Budd family is very grateful for the wonderful care she received at Hillhouse and from the hospice staff at CHANS.