Statewide Carrier of the Year: Szyperski’s carrier roles go beyond the call of duty

J. Patrick Eaken

For over 44 years, eight months, 57-year-old Joe Szyperski has been walking the streets of Oregon delivering The Press.
        Yes, he’s been delivering since he was a teenager and is still going strong today. He started on September 1, 1976 and today delivers 340 newspapers per week. He’s also remained very active in the community.
        It can be estimated he has walked over 12,000 miles and has delivered approximately 941,400 newspapers. His route, the East Hampton Park neighborhood, is bordered between Fassett and Coy streets, and Starr and Seaman.
        Now, the Ohio News Media Association is awarding Szyperski with its statewide Carrier of the Year honor.
        “Joe is probably one of the most qualified carriers you could find. He’s delivered our paper for an astounding 43 years and starting in January, six different decades. He started when he was a young boy and has just stuck with it ever since,” Press circulation manager Jordan Szozda wrote in his application letter.
        “That alone is an impressive feat. The fact that during my time as circulation manager I believe he has only taken one week off due to a surgery is another impressive feat. He’s done this despite being on daily chemo treatments since he was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma seven years ago. It’s so rare to find someone that delivers through such adversity.
        “He’s also done this while working physically demanding jobs like the ten-year window when he was head landscaper for Black Diamond and the many years, he ran his own landscaping company — all the while still finding time to be a wrestling coach at various schools for the last 40 years.  His dedication to his job of delivering our paper week in and week out has been so inspiring.”
        Szyperski’s feats go far beyond walking virtually thousands of miles over his lifetime to deliver The Press.
        “Some other impressive things about Joe are some of the things he’s achieved through his impressive work ethic and determination,” Szozda wrote. “During his younger years he would run 1,000-1,500 miles a year. During that time, he also completed two triathlons, a marathon, and the Mackinaw Bridge Walk 19 times.
        “Three of those times he finished first. One of those walks was very special in particular — in 1992 he was fortunate enough to walk a portion of it side by side with President George H.W. Bush. He along with a few other select people were able to walk and talk with the president for 45 minutes.”
Watching the weather
        Szyperski says he did not fell into becoming a carrier by chance. It was because of a friend.
        “A friend had a route and I helped every so often — then decided I wanted my own,” Szyperski wrote for his nomination.
        Szyperski takes extra care in making sure each issue of The Press is delivered in good shape to its home.
        “I have the flexibility of doing my route anytime within a certain time frame and can wait for good weather,” Szyperski said. “It allows me to juggle it between other commitments. I will watch the weather and deliver either before or after a bad storm. This way they get a good dry paper.”
        He goes beyond the call of duty, too, helping customers taking garbage to the curb, even informing a customer that they had a chimney fire, possibly saving a home.
        “Joe is truly one of the carriers that is more than qualified for this award,” Szozda wrote. “His hard work and determination over his 44-plus years of delivery has been nothing short of extraordinary. I will always appreciate what he has done for our paper.”
        Szyperski is not only a wrestling coach — he has been a wrestling official 39 years, played in a flag football league 23 years, coached football for five years and was a softball coach for four years.
        At Cardinal Stritch, Szyperski was an all-academic football player in 1979 and went on to graduate from Owens Technical College in 1982 and with a degree in education from the University of Toledo in 1989.
        He is active in his church, too.
        “I’ve been very active in my church being on the festival committee, working fish fries, I am an usher in church and redid all the landscaping around all the buildings,” Szyperski said.
        Last fall, Szyperski and Gladieux Home Center co-employees Ron Gladieux shared the Press football soothsayer championship. In picking the winners of 148 high school, college, and professional football games, somehow Gladieux and Szyperski both finished 119-29, which at 80.4 percent is slightly under the all-time record. Press soothsayers have been choosing winners, and losers, since 2001.
        “I’m just proud of Joe,” Gladieux said. “If I had to tie, I’d be happy to tie with Joe. He wanted to win bad, but at the end I was happy that we tied.”
        Szyperski added, “It was fun. It gave us something to talk about every day. He tried to get me to pick Stryker (0-8) every day. My only regret is I’m a Michigan fan, and I picked Michigan every week, and the only week I didn’t pick them would have won me the contest. I didn’t trust them against Notre Dame and that would have won me the competition.
        “It’s good we tied. It was good competition. We were never more than two games apart the whole season,” Szyperski continued. “He won a week, I won a week, and either he went two games up, or he had a bad week and I went two games up, or he had a good week, and it ended up even.”
        Szyperski is also a cancer survivor. He has spent a lifetime in the sun, working in the landscaping and lawncare fields for more than 30 years and was recently treated for melanoma. He also managed a mini-golf course and ran in the sun to stay in shape for the 38 years.


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