Dependable mail carrier gets a surprise award

October 02, 2003|LIZ MAPLES

Thomas Burger has proved that neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow can stop him.

For 51 years, he has made sure that the people in Perryville, Gravel Switch, Mitchellsburg and his neighbors in Parksville have received their mail.

On Wednesday he was honored for his service as a contractor with the U.S. Postal Service's Eagle Spirit Award.

At 8:30 a.m. before the mail carriers left to deliver the day's mail, they paused to offer Burger a round of applause. He was taken by surprise. Danville Postmaster Donald Hopper and Waynesburg Postmaster Mike Stringer, who used to hold Hopper's post, went through great pains to keep it hush-hush.

"I didn't know anything about it," Burger said.

Stringer called and told Burger's wife. Hopper called Burger into the office after Burger dropped his load on the dock. People there said they believed it was the first time in 10 years that he had been called inside.


Burger is 77 and the only one who has worked at the three locations the post office has had over the years - the Federal Building, Walnut Street and Main Street.

He has had virtually the same route since he started on Nov. 15, 1952.

Each day at 5:45 a.m., he starts in Parksville and picks up mail from there, Gravel Switch and Mitchellsburg, then drops it off in Danville. It takes him about 2 1/2 hours. In the afternoon, he does the route in reverse, dropping off mail for customers there and finishes up about 5:45 p.m.

He remembers that once he took five days off for a back problem and he had an accident in 1954. Otherwise they say clocks could be set by Burger. Stringer couldn't even remember if Burger had a substitute.

Liz Maples can be reached at

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