Carrier retires from newspaper delivery service

SANDYVILLE – After more than 30 years as a newspaper carrier for The Parkersburg News and Sentinel, Jackson County resident Larry Pursley has retired.

The 62-year-old Pursley, of Sandyville, drove his last route and delivered his last newspapers on June 1.

Pursley said he doesn’t recall how many years he has been carrying newspapers on rural routes in the Mid-Ohio Valley, but was assured by his department head that it has been for more than three decades.

When he started in the early 1970s, Pursley said the Parkersburg newspaper was basically a Wood County paper. He was part of the effort to begin branching out into other counties as new routes were created and covered by the carriers and their managers.

“At that time, the routes were big,” he said.

Over the years, Pursley said he has carried newspapers in Roane, Wood and Ritchie counties. A lifelong Jackson County resident, he has been delivering newspapers in Jackson County for the past 18 years. When he started, he and another carrier could cover the entire county but now five are required.

There have been a lot of changes in technology. Much of the work once done by hand in preparing newspapers for delivery is now automated.

At the time he started, nearly all city routes were done in the traditional way, usually by kids on bicycles and in similar ways. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the shift to more vehicle carriers began although some city carriers still do a large portion of their work on foot, even today, he said.

Pursley said the best part of his work over the last 30 years has been the people. One year, he was trapped in his vehicle by a blizzard while delivering papers and was invited into the home of one of his customers to weather the storm.

“I found that if you provide good service to people, they will treat you right,” he said.

Despite retiring as a carrier, Pursley will remain active. He has a small farm near Sandyville and plans to spend his retirement working on the farm and raising calves.

“I’m going to spend quite a bit of time there,” he said.

Joe Tranquill, circulation director for The News and Sentinel, said carriers like Pursley remain an important part of any newspaper’s operation.

“Over the years we’ve changed many things in the circulation department, but the vital role of the carrier remains constant,” he said. “Each carrier is contracted by our office to provide excellent delivery service to the reader, but only a handful did it as well as Larry. He provided excellent service, had great knowledge of our delivery area and treated his route as a business.

“We will have big shoes to fill. In fact, we are always looking for individuals like Larry to deliver the newspaper to our readers. Many of our carriers are retired, professionals or students looking to subsidize their income,” Tranquill said.