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Popcorn Bert

Popcorn Bert Retires After Almost 12 Years of Popping Popcorn and Delivering Mail

Lovingly referred to as Popcorn Bert, Bert Shock has been a fixture at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton on Popcorn Fridays. But after almost 12 years of volunteering to pop the popcorn and delivering the mail for Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton, Shock retired in April.

While he is doing well, Shock, 91, decided this was a good time to retire, as he tires more easily after a full day of activity. “There is a beginning, middle and end to everything,” Shock said. “This is a good time to conclude my volunteer service.”

But he will miss the people at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton just as much as they will miss him.

Dozens of people stopped by to wish Shock well and thank him for his volunteer service on April 12 at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton in the staff lounge across from the café where he popped popcorn for years. Popcorn was available, and cake was served.

“We told Bert that even though he is retiring, we still will keep in touch and want him to pop in and see us when he can,” said Maureen Swarts, manager of Volunteer Services at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton. “We will miss him around here! He has had an impact on the people at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton.”

Shock began volunteering in October 2007 after his wife, Juanita, died in June 2007 after a seven-year battle with cancer. “For the last three years of her life, she was at the Hospice House off and on,” he said. “After she died, I came back here to volunteer. I didn’t have a companion, and I needed something to do.”

His first volunteer job at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton was processing the mail. That was a perfect fit for him. He had been a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier for 30 years in the Dayton area on a foot route before he retired from his career. “You get so acquainted with people,” Shock said, fondly remembering his days as a mail carrier. “I watched children grow up and get married.”

He recalled delivering the mail during the Great Blizzard of 1978. “I wore winter boots and galoshes for 73 days after the Blizzard of ’78 because it was so messy,” he said. “But I couldn’t wait to deliver the mail to the people on my route. They were special to me, and they needed their mail.” 

When he volunteered at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton and was asked to help with the mail, he jumped at the opportunity. Shock assessed the mail situation and determined it needed to be better organized. The following day, he brought in a role of masking tape, wrote down the names of the departments and alphabetized the mail to be delivered. Throughout the years, he delivered the mail with a smile and a greeting. He also shared comics, funny stories and jokes with people along his mail route at Ohio’s Hospice of Dayton.

Within a few months, he was asked to run the popcorn stand near the café. “I never tired of the smell of popcorn,” said Shock, who holds a record of popping 128 bags of popcorn. “Several people told me we serve the best popcorn in Dayton!”

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