Oct. 22 — MINERSVILLE — You can take the daughter out of the coalfield, it is sometimes said, but you can’t take the coalfield out of the daughter.
That there is some truth to the old adage was evident Thursday night when Pottsville native Megan J. Brennan spoke to Mountaineer Fire Company No. 1 in Minersville.
Brennan, the first and so far only woman to hold the title of U.S. postmaster general, ran an independent agency with 630,000 employees delivering mail to 163 million homes and businesses six days a week. week.
But when she began her hour-long lecture at the invitation of the Minersville Historical Society, Brennan called the fire company the “hosie.”
“I can tell you that I was in a lot of pantyhose in my day, and it certainly won’t be the last,” she said to the delight of the 50 or so people in attendance. “My dad and my brother Kevin were members of the Good Intent Fire Company in Pottsville, so we had a lot of family events at the hosie.”
Brennan, who led the Postal Service from November 2014 to February 2020, was the 74th postmaster general in an agency that began in 1775 – the year before the Declaration of Independence was signed.
At the insistence of her father, postman Jeremiah “Jerry” Brennan, she took the employment test and started as a letter carrier in Lancaster fresh out of Immaculata College in Chester County.
She rose through the ranks, including a stint at Gus Yatron’s Post Office in Reading, to Vice President and Director of Operations before being appointed Postmaster General. She worked for the postal service for 34 years.
The audience erupted in applause at the mention that Brennan was the first female postmaster general and, she predicted, not the last.
“I come from the workplace,” she said. “It sent the message that the Postal Service is growing its leaders.”
Coal region values
Brennan, who lives near Pittsburgh, was among seven children who grew up in a home on West Norwegian Street.
“When I look back on my career and upbringing, what resonates is the importance of family, friends and faith,” she said.
Her work ethic was weaned early on when, as a child, she delivered the Sunday Philadelphia Bulletin in her neighborhood.
“My parents worked, my siblings worked,” she said. “And what I also remember about growing up in the coal country is not only appreciating the value of hard work, but loyalty to a company, whether it’s the postal service, the County Courthouse, PennDOT, or Guers Dairy.”
Throughout her career, she carried her father’s advice: “Know the mail, know the people”.
There was, apparently, significant sibling rivalry in the Brennan household of three boys and four girls.
“My siblings were my fiercest competitors,” she said, “and my teammates forever.”
Teamwork was a lesson learned at Nativity BVM High School, where she excelled in women’s basketball and softball.
She was part of the Nativity team that won the PIAA Class A State Championship in 1978. She scored over 1,000 points during her basketball career.
She was named Top Female Athlete and Most Outstanding Female Athlete, and is a member of the Allen-Rogowicz Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame.
The sport leaves a mark on those who practice it, she suggested.
“When I’m in a meeting,” Brennan said, “I can usually pick out the women who’ve been in sports.”
An inspiring life
During a Q&A, Brennan shared a tender moment about her father the day she was sworn in as postmaster general.
Sitting at his daughter’s desk in Washington, Jerry Brennan leaned back and said, “Now that’s how it should have been.”
An avid reader and history buff, Brennan asked the audience if they could name the two postmaster presidents.
Right away, someone yelled, correctly, “Abraham Lincoln.” The other, she said, was Harry S. Truman.
It was inevitable that a Pottsville woman who ran the nation’s largest retail network – 34,000 offices and $70 billion in annual revenue – would be seen as a role model.
Dr. Irvil Kear, president of the Minersville Historical Society, asked Brennan if she considered herself a role model for women.
“When I was in college, there were only three things women could hope for,” teaching, nursing and secretarial work, said Kear, the first woman to chair the Schuylkill County Development Corp. .
“Yeah, especially young women,” Brennan replied. “I have four nieces, and they have more opportunities than me, which is normal.”
Sherrill Brennan, a good friend but not a relative, regaled Brennan as an inspiration to women.
“A small-town girl, working really hard and reaching the top,” she said, “is an incredible role model for all of us.”
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