PURDYS, N.Y. – Deborah Gerrity has been working at the Purdys Post Office for 23 years and seven months. Feb. 28 will be her last day on the job.
“Some of my customers feel they don’t need a small-town post office any more. For example, they pay bills online,” Gerrity said. “But some still believe it’s a way of finding out what’s going on. They say I know absolutely everything.”
Having been in this small community for so long, Gerrity says, she has become an amateur therapist. “I know all about the births and the deaths. I know when people are struggling. I share all the joy, the sorrow and the pain. I’ve given a lot of hugs over the years.”
Gerrity has had her own share of pain. Years ago, she was diagnosed with melanoma. “People were so supportive. It was a larger reaction than anything I could have anticipated. People really depend on me. I’m happy to say, I’m a survivor.”
Gerrity’s assistance often takes her beyond weighing packages and selling stamps. “If somebody needs a babysitter, I find them one,” she said. “I house-sit. I dog-sit. I take dogs home with me when people go on vacation. I once helped someone lose 100 pounds, walking.”
Several years ago, Tom Foley, who lived across the street, fell and “cracked his head,” Gerrity said. “I took him in back and called an ambulance and he went to Northern Westchester Hospital. Four hours later, the hospital nurse called me and said, ‘Tom’s ready to go home. He said to call the post office.’ I was confused. I tried calling his relatives and couldn’t reach them.”
Gerrity put a sign on the door, locked up and went to pick up Foley. “The community was grateful, but my boss was so mad,” she said. “Still, I’d do it again.” Foley wrote her a poem in thanks.
Gerrity is married to a correction officer at Riker’s Island. “But in the house, I’m the warden,” she said. “He does the laundry.”
The couple has two children. Emilie, 22, is a dancer with the New York City Ballet. Martin, a high school senior, will be heading for the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park.
Though she will miss her customers and their dogs, who wait at the side door for a treat, Gerrity is looking forward to training for a marathon, and perhaps biking the rail trailways and doing the Walkway over the Hudson River.
“But I’ll have to keep practicing my math skills," she said, "or I won’t be able to add in my head any more.”