N.E. Cable Pioneer Duffy Dies at 74

George E. Duffy, a pioneering cable operator in the Boston market, has died. The former system owner was 74 when he died Feb. 17 in a hospital in Merrimac, N.H.

He had divided his retirement years between Hudson, N.H., and Florida, said his son, Tom Duffy.

The senior Duffy was a telephone engineer in the 1960s when a court ruling forced telecom companies to divest themselves of their cable interests.

Duffy recognized an opportunity, his son said, so he founded Colonial Cablevision Corp. in the late 1960s.

The company served the Boston suburbs, adding and selling systems through the years. Duffy was an early supporter of news programming on his local origination channels, covering “as much local sports as the towns would allow,” Tom Duffy said.

The company was also an active community fundraiser: By one accounting, Colonial raised $1 million for regional Boys and Girls Clubs, Tom Duffy added.

George Duffy was also an active advocate for cable, holding offices in the New England Cable Television Association. For his work in the cable industry, he was inducted as a cable television pioneer in 1992.

Eventually he sold the company to Continental Cablevision Inc. and created a new business, Colonial Capital Corp., the venture-capital firm where Tom Duffy still works today.

George Duffy was preceded in death by his first wife, Barbara, but is survived by a second wife, Lois, and his son.

The Cable Television Pioneers also acknowledged the passing of another member, Buford Saville, in October of 2003.

In 1951, Saville and his father-in-law, J. Holland Rannells, launched Potomac Valley Television in Cumberland, Md. They offered three channels at the start, but ultimately became one of the largest community cable television systems in the country.

He was very active in the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, as well as state and local cable groups. He was inducted as a charter member of the cable pioneers in 1971.

He is survived by his wife, Gloria.