Burris Foods driver Melvyn Miller said goodbye to his friends and coworkers yesterday and retired from the company he had served so well for 21 years and 8 months. "This company has been good to me," said Miller. "Overall, it has been the best company to work for, right from the beginning when Mr. Jack Burris was the president."
Miller, still fit and healthy at 71, is tired of driving. "I drove 460 miles today," he said last week when we spoke with him. "Yesterday, 506 miles, 8 deliveries. The strain adds up. Driving is a physical and mental job and after almost 22 years, it has taken it's toll. Oh sure, I still have the desire every day to go out and do a good job for the company, and I make that happen. But I'm tired so I'm retiring. I'll do something else for a while."
Doing something else wouldn't be unusual for Miller who, in the course of his working life has done many things. Shortly after his birth in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, his parents moved the family to Harrington, Delaware, where they worked at a farm for a third of the profits from the season's harvest. That meant working from sunup to sundown planting and harvesting everything from soybeans to corn.
Miller learned at a young age what working a fair day for a fair days wage meant. So as Miller moved into his late teens, he had an itching to do something else, something that paid better wages. He went to work for Delmarva Drilling digging wells. Eventually he formed Miller Brothers, a masonary company, and for 16 years poured foundations for houses. The time came around when it was time to do something else and he went to work for a private trucking company for a year or so, until Mr. Burris hired Miller to drive for him.
Going to work for Mr. Burris was the best thing I ever did, Miller said. Not only were the wages better, everything was better. "Mr. Burris loved his employees, he really had a heart. When he passed on, I missed him. We all did because he was someone that treated everybody well."
"When he started supplying Safeway stores, I made the first frozen food delivery to Safeway in Washington, D.C. and Mr. Burris said he wanted to ride with me. When we pulled into the back of the store, you might have thought he was one of us regular employees and not the boss. He never acted like one. He actually introduced me first. At drivers' meetings, he'd attend and would always ask us how we were being treated. If you're not being treated well, I want to know, he always said. Everybody did a good job because of him. He was a good guy and inspired loyalty in his employees. I miss him, but I don't do my work any different now than before he left us. It's different here now, but overall, Burris is still a good company to work for."
Miller isn't quite sure what he'll do next. "I'll need something to occupy my time, and I want to be helpful. My son-in-law is a carpenter and my son is a well-driller. I have time now so maybe I'll get out and get on doing that. I also love to go to family reunions and I'll have time for those now. I missed a lot of them because I couldn't go; my job came first."
"Either way, my doctor said I'm as healthy as a brand new dollar bill. It's good to have a clean bill of health to start your retirement."
Indeed. We wish you well, Mr. Miller.