“I want our readers to know that John Currie might not have had his name on the masthead, but for three decades he was the main reason people had a copy of the Local in their hands. You can have the best articles and photos, but it means nothing if you can't get the newspaper into people's hands, which John did. He never took a vacation, and he really pulled us through the pandemic.”
This sentiment from Leisha Shaffer, marketing and circulation manager for the Local, was echoed last week by expressions of grief from owners of the dozens of area businesses that have been selling the Local for decades, thanks to the cheerful early morning deliveries from Currie. The Mt. Airy native and long-time Chestnut Hill resident suffered a massive stroke on May 5 and was taken to Chestnut Hill Hospital. He was later transferred to Keystone Hospice in Wyndmoor, where he died on May 21 at age 81.
“He was always helpful and pleasant. He worked like the dickens and would give you the shirt off his back,” said Cheryl Massaro, former long-time circulation manager for the Local. “He went out of his way for the Local. He'd be at the post office 2 or 3 a.m. taking the papers to be mailed. He was carjacked at Gravers Lane and Germantown Avenue seven years ago, but he kept working. He was out there at all hours. He'd put the papers in the boxes early in the morning and even delivered papers to a newsstand at 15th and Market Streets many years ago.”
Until a few years ago Currie delivered the Local to both stores and the main post office at 30th and Market Streets, later to Lindbergh Boulevard and Island Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia. Before the pandemic, the Local had two delivery drivers, but since the pandemic began, Currie took the entire route, including 36 stores in Mt. Airy, Roxborough, Lafayette Hill, Wyndmoor, Flourtown and Fort Washington.
“So they all got to know him well,” Shaffer said. “If he got sick and I covered for him, the store owners were all concerned. They said they'd keep him in their prayers. When I had to tell them last Wednesday that he had died, they were genuinely sad. After all, he had become their friend after so many years. He always stood up for people, so I was glad to see so many people standing up for him at the viewing (on May 26 at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Mt. Airy).”
John J. Currie, Jr. was a proud alumnus of Holy Cross Catholic School and Cardinal Dougherty High School. After graduating, he attended Penn State University and enrolled in the U.S. Navy, where he served on the U.S.S. Independence prior to the Vietnam War. Upon returning home, John graduated with a degree in political science from La Salle University.
Before starting with the Local in 1994, Currie worked in the gardening department for Sears in the 1960s, in auto parts for Dorman Products in the 1970s and as an independent salesman after that for lighting products, security cameras, air purifiers and Easter plants and was a bartender at the Bocce Club from 1990 to 2004.
“He just had to stay busy,” said Currie's son, John, who works in store operations for Apple Computers. “He was always working, and he just loved getting to know people. He could not sit down, although he was a big Phillies fan and would take me to some games every year.”
Currie was a proud member of the American Legion, Arthur V. Savage Post 100, in Wyndmoor; the VFW Post 5205 in Chestnut Hill and the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Tacony. According to his family, John was the first person contacted when someone needed help, and he always volunteered his time and talent for the people and causes he loved most.
John was predeceased in death by his parents and his younger brother, Robert. He is survived by his wife of 42 years, Dorothy Moore Currie; daughter, special education teacher Kathleen Lucadamo, and her husband, Erick, of Chalfont; son, John, and his dog, Ace. He was also a loving grandfather to Dominic V. Lucadamo.
“He was such a people person,”son John said. “He loved working for the Local and all the interactions (with customers). Not having him around is brutal! We miss him so much.”
Donations in John’s memory may be made to Holy Cross Catholic School, 144 E Mt Airy Ave, Philadelphia, Pa. 19119. or Our Mother of Consolation School.
Len Lear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.