'Running Ron' planning last delivery
One UPS man's last ride through a Maryland town.
October 17, 2001
The invitation to the retirement party simply stated the bash was for "Ron."
To another newcomer in another town it might have been confusing. But Eileen McLachlan didn't bat an eye.
"We knew who he was," the Dickerson resident said matter-of-factly. "We've only been here a year!"
Ron Crigger -- a.k.a. "Radar," "Speedy," "Rapid Ron" and "Running Ron" -- has been United Parcel Service's dedicated deliveryman for the towns of Boyds, Barnesville, Dickerson, Beallsville and parts of Poolesville for more than 30 years. He is retiring Jan. 18.
Crigger and his years of service to the community were feted Sunday afternoon at a crowded barbecue and community picnic in Missy and Steve Kelly's renovated barn on their sprawling Dickerson property. Guests turned out to shake Crigger's hand, give him a hug, tell Ron-related stories and say how much they will miss him.
"Ron... has been part of this community forever," said Suzanne Neal of Dickerson, one of a few hundred guests in attendance. "He's been a constant part of the neighborhood."
"Thank you for putting stuff on our screened-in porch!" Emily Ware of Boyds told Crigger. "We're going to miss him," Ware's husband Tom said.
Crigger got his start with UPS in 1969 at the age of 29 after he answered an advertisement in the Washington Star newspaper. Crigger travels about 150 miles per day, 220 days per year, estimated his supervisor, Curtis Shepherd. Crigger begins his 50-mile commute from his home in Frederick to the office in Gaithersburg at 5 a.m. and starts the day in prayer with his co-workers.
Now 61, Crigger is looking forward to retirement and building a new home on his property in Philippi, W.Va. But it is clear he will miss what he calls his "customer family."
"These are good people," Crigger said, taking a short break from the line of well-wishers who came out on the rainy afternoon to see him. "I was so blessed to be assigned to this place."
State Sen. Jean W. Roesser (R-Dist. 15) of Potomac presented Crigger with a resolution from the Maryland Senate honoring his years of service to the area and gave the driver a state flag. Crigger was also given a proclamation by the Montgomery County Council in appreciation of his service to the community.
Crigger's wife Sarah said the turnout in her husband's honor had been "awesome."
"It's just so hard to comprehend," she said, reminiscing about how his customers gave him food and drinks when he was working. When they found out he was diabetic, she said, they switched to diet drinks.
Jerry Neal of Dickerson explained how Crigger earned one of his nicknames.
"He always runs to and from the truck with packages," Neal said. Years ago, his daughter Becky -- now 18 -- coined the moniker, "Running Ron" for the always-on-the-go deliveryman. It stuck. "I've called him Running Ron ever since," Neal said.
Much as he loves the job and the people he's met, it is clear there are a few things Crigger won't miss.
He told a story about running around his truck 10 times on a winter evening to avoid the bane of every deliveryman -- a customer's dog.
"A dog came out from around the house and he was really after me. I couldn't get the door open. It wouldn't slide properly. But every time I'd go around the circle I'd pull it open a little bit more. So I finally get in and pull the door closed and I was safe."
By the end of the party, Crigger appeared a little overwhelmed but managed to get out a short speech after guests told their stories.
"You'll always be part of my heart, and may God bless you. Thank you so much," he said from atop the converted bandstand inside Kelly's barn.
A few minutes later, The 109 Express, a Barnesville band, launched into its latest tune in the series of covers it played throughout the night.
But this old favorite had a new twist: It's about "Ronny B. Goode."