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Ironton Post Office Makes Donation in honor of Deere

They could have had a pizza party or bought a fridge for their office. Instead, the employees of the Ironton Post Office decided to donate $300 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Postmaster Kathleen Patrick said her employees received a cash award from the Columbus District Office for delivery performance. They could have done anything they wanted to do with the money, but they decided to donate it to Make-A-Wish in the name of a deceased employee, Thomas Deere, she said.

Deere began working for the Ironton Post Office in August of 1967 until he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1968. After serving in Vietnam, he worked in Chillicothe for six years. He returned to Ironton in 1974 and worked as a window clerk.

On March 19 of this year, Deere died on the workroom floor of the post office, Patrick said.

"It was horrible," she said. "He was waiting on a customer when he started sweating. I didn't think too much about it because he

sometimes had malaria attacks from where he was in Vietnam. He said, 'Don't worry Kathleen, I'll be here tomorrow.' He had a massive coronary, and that was it."

Some of the postal employees have fond memories of Deere.

"He was a nut," said Gary Runyon, a city carrier. "He was always in a good mood and talking about his cabin in Tennessee."

"He was always jovial, and he made people laugh," added Kenny Fout, another city carrier. "He knew everyone and always made jokes about something he knew about them. It wasn't done in a bad way, of course."

Even when she criticized him, Deere wasn't fazed, Patrick said.

"He took it like water off a duck's back," she said.

Allison Plennert, development manager from Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Ohio, accepted the $300 money order. Plennert also brought volunteer applications, hoping some of the postal employees would be interested.

"Volunteers meet with the child and the family and help them put a wish together," she said. "They also have a wish party for the child before he or she goes has a wish made."

Make-A-Wish has two children in Ironton -- one with a brain tumor and one with leukemia -- Plennert said.

The most popular wish for younger children is Walt Disney World, said Plennert. However, some of them have met celebrities such as Britney Spears and The Rock. One child is waiting to meet President Bush.

One of the children involved in the Southern Ohio Make-A-Wish foundation took a private tour of Alcatraz and another went to the San Diego Zoo to swim with dolphins.

Patrick Wayne, John Wayne's son, was en route to meet a child when the child died, Plennert said.

"This is phenomenal," said Plennert. "You always know it comes from the heart. They could have just spent it on themselves, but instead, they decided to help children in need." Amelia A. Pridemore/The Ironton Tribune