First Posted: 11/11/2014
Those who frequent the Clarks Summit Post Office may have noticed something missing recently.
Or rather, someone.
Jerry Burke, 58, of Clarks Summit, who began working for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) almost 40 years ago, retired, completing his last shift behind the counter on Friday, Oct. 31.
The husband, father, Our Lady of the Snows church usher of 30 years and previous Abington sports coach said he’s not sure exactly what comes next in life, but looks forward to “catching up with some things around the house” in the immediate future.
“It was just time to go,” he said. “I don’t really have any definite plans.”
Originally from Scranton, Burke began his career with the USPS at the Honesdale Post Office in 1975, right out of high school. At that time, he worked as both a clerk and carrier, but from 1981 on, solely as a clerk. He transferred to the Clarks Summit office in 1979 and, in addition to tending the front window, spent about 30 years working with bulk mailings.
Bruce Halleran, who worked with Burke as a clerk, said his co-worker possesses a unique perspective, having worked the same job since graduating high school and, although Burke wasn’t “one of the old guys,” he was, in a way, “one of the old guys,” because he was there for so long, knew the history of the building and could talk of the “old days.”
“Now I’m the old guy,” Halleran said, laughing.
He added not everyone has the disposition to work as a window clerk, but Burke does, without a doubt.
“You’ve got to be very laid back,” he said, “and have a certain attention to detail.”
Burke moved to the borough in 1983, and the year after married Susan Lehnert, a Clarks Summit native. They have two children: Kelly Burke, now 25, a Keystone College graduate, and Jerry Burke, 21, a Johnson College graduate.
His greatest accomplishment in life, he said, is raising two successful children.
“I’m proud to see that they’re both doing well,” he said.
When his children were younger, Burke coached every sports team on which each of them played. For his daughter, that included softball and basketball while his son played baseball, football and basketball. To him, the best aspect of coaching was the opportunity to teach young athletes not only the proper way to play the game, but good sportsmanship as well, both on and off the field.
This attitude of good sportsmanship is something he aims to carry with him wherever he goes. One of the biggest lessons he learned so far in life, he said, is “to treat people how you want to be treated. I try to put myself on the other side of the counter. You just want to be treated with respect.”
It’s no wonder his favorite part of the post office job was meeting new people and getting to know their families.
“He was very good with with the customers,” Halleran said. “I don’t think any of the customers didn’t like Jerry. It would be a hard time finding five people in Clarks Summit who didn’t think he was a good window clerk.”